Cancer survivors, victims’ families see pink jerseys as symbol of hope

Published 11:17am Monday, February 4, 2013

Paint the Rink Pink auction nets at least $34K; money still coming in

It took 6-year-old Elisabeth Wilde of Austin all year to save $500 so she could buy a pink Austin Bruins jersey for her mom, Amy Mueller-Wilde, who is fighting cancer.

So when every jersey at the Bruins’ Paint the Rink Pink fundraiser Saturday sold for at least $500, Bruins’ owner Craig Patrick stepped in and helped Elisabeth and her dad, Shannon Wilde, buy the last jersey for $3,500, the most any jersey went for.

“Helps cure mom,” Elizabeth said of why they bought John Simonson’s No. 15 jersey.

Amy has Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and is going through her last round of treatment in Rochester for now. So for the third-straight year, the Bruins have hosted Paint the Rink Pink — now the main event and kickoff for the second annual Paint the Town Pink fundraiser this week — in front of a sold out crowd, as each player sings or dances before his jersey goes to the highest bidder. Then, proceeds from the jersey auction, raffle and T-shirt sale go to The Hormel Institute’s cancer research for people like Amy.

“There’s definitely no better cause,” said an emotional Shannon Wilde after the event. “It’s the only way to do it. Keep doing the research.

“I just want to give a big thank you from Amy and me to the Bruins and [Patrick].”

There were many similar stories Saturday night as the Bruins’ jersey auction raised at least $34,100 by a preliminary count. Organizers are still tallying money from the raffle, T-shirt sale and other fundraisers, but this year’s figure is more than 2012’s jersey auction total of $31,000, and well above the first year’s overall total of $22,000. In 2012, the Bruins helped raise $38,000, part of the inaugural Paint the Town Pink’s $62,500.

“This is exactly what the Bruins are about. We’re about being part of the fabric of the community,” Patrick said. “It’s been remarkable. People have been so giving, and accepting of the guys.”

So Patrick decided to return the favor and help the Wildes.

“It worked out so [Elisabeth] could get a jersey, and that was really awesome,” he said.

The auction had special meaning for Bruins backup goalie Jason Pawloski, who had three stops in the shootout of Austin’s 2-1 victory over the Brookings Blizzard. Jason’s grandmother passed away from breast cancer Thursday, and his dad, Dan Pawloski, was the winning bidder for his No. 41 jersey.

“We just lost my mom, his grandma Thursday to breast cancer, and my sister has it too, so this jersey is for them,” said Dan, who bought the jersey for $2,400, the second-largest bid of the night. “It’s a nasty disease. My mom battled for a long time, and it’s time to find a cure.”

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