Former NHL greats unite on the ice for spinal cord injury research
On April 21, Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton, hosts of the top-rated “Boomer & Carton” morning show on CBS RADIO’s WFAN-AM/FM, hosted the Third Annual Mike Nichols Charity Hockey Game at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The event filled the stands with over 3,000 people to raise money for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and Nichols Family Trust. Whether a fan of hockey, the Reeve Foundation, or Mike Nichols, attendees could feel the emotion and sheer determination in the atmosphere that night.
To kick off the game, Mike went out on the ice and thanked all who were involved in making the event a success for the past three years before completing the ceremonial puck drop. “This was the vision from the start, and I can’t thank everyone around me enough, everyone who has supported me in this, for helping make it a reality,” Nichols said. “It’s a dream come true to have it here at the Prudential Center. Never did I think I’d be looking up at the jumbo-tron and see Mikey Strong 23 written on it.”
In January of 2014, Mike Nichols, a senior forward of NJ’s Monroe Township ice hockey team, sustained a debilitating neck injury when he was checked from behind – fracturing his C-5 vertebrae in a high school ice hockey game. Immediately, the hockey community rallied around Nichols with endless support, including the New Jersey Devils, as well as Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton. Three years later, Mike now pays forward his gratitude by serving as an ambassador for the Reeve Foundation to help speed the development of treatments for spinal cord injury.
“This is one of the most inspiring events that we participate in. We know all who attend come away with the exact same feeling,” said Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton.
For $20, attendees of the game, co-hosted by Prudential and WFAN, saw over 19 former NHL players take the ice as a part of Team Boomer or Team Carton. Team Boomer included Kevin Westgarth, former Islanders Marty Reasoner and Rick DiPietro and former Rangers Glenn Anderson, Alexei Kovalev, Tie Domi, Brian Mullen, Tom Laidlaw and Brad Richards. Team Carton included Will Reeve, son of Christopher and Dana Reeve, 2014 Olympic silver medalist and New York Riveter Shelly Picard, John MacLean, “Mr. Devil” Ken Daneyko, Bruce Driver, Colin White, Grant Marshall, Doug Brown, Arron Asham and recently retired Marek Zidlicky, Bryce Salvador, and Patrik Elias.
“We are proud to host an incredible event for such an extraordinary cause,” said Hugh Weber, President of the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center. “Mikey and his family are an inspiration to all of us. We are grateful for this opportunity to bring our community together and raise awareness for spinal cord injuries, with a fun and entertaining game on the ice.”
In 2015, the inaugural charity game raised over $57,000 and the 2016 game raised over $60,000 to benefit the Nichols Family Trust and the Reeve Foundation. Both events were held at the Middletown Ice World Sports Complex in Middletown, New Jersey. After selling out two years in a row, the Prudential Center offered a new home for the all-star game helping raise over $75,000 for the cause.
“I have been incredibly grateful for the generosity from Boomer, Carton and the entire WFAN family. And now, to have this event at the Prudential Center, the home of so many great players, is truly a dream come true,” added Nichols.
The event was a depiction of Christopher and Dana Reeve’s dream. A night dedicated to raising awareness for spinal cord research while celebrating how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go.