Cancer Wellness spent time with Courtney Mahoney, the team’s senior vice president of operations, who has directed Chicago Wolves Charities’ efforts since the foundation’s inception. While the Wolves work to help multiple organizations, CWC never hesitates to marshal the forces to fight against cancer.
The Wolves have supported a variety of causes for a long time. When it comes to cancer-fighting initiatives, what has inspired the team’s actions?
Sara’s situation resonated so much with everyone it inspired the creation of our first “Fight Against Cancer” jersey fundraiser. The jerseys garnered a tremendous response from our fans, who participated in auctions and raffles and raised a terrific amount of money for charity.
So many people are affected by cancer, so the more we can do to raise funds and awareness is important. Sara endured 20 surgeries between 2008 and their wedding in 2011, which I was so fortunate to attend. They made purple the theme color for their wedding—and of course, the purple ribbon is the symbol for cancer survivors. So that inspired us to create cancer survivor jerseys to support the cause further.
In addition to the jersey fundraisers, we have raised money to help pediatric cancer organizations for a long time. For the last seven years, we have partnered with A Silver Lining Foundation for our Breast Cancer Awareness Nights, and proceeds have helped [Silver Lining’s] “Buy A Mom A Mammogram” program.
The Chicago Wolves Charities run your community-relations programs. How does CWC serve the community?
Our goal is to give back to organizations throughout the Chicago area as much as possible.
Whether it’s raising funds or awareness, we feel it’s our responsibility as a sports team to give back in a variety of unique ways.
Over 1,400 dogs have found loving, forever homes through our monthly Adopt-A-Dog night. Our Read To Succeed program sends our players to libraries to talk to children about the importance of reading. Our French-speaking players visit high school French classes to give them a chance to talk with a native speaker and to see the value in learning a second language. We’re fortunate our team’s owners, Don Levin and Buddy Meyers, believe strongly in helping the community.
Tim Breslin, one of the original Wolves players in 1994, lost an abrupt battle with appendiceal cancer in 2005.
What is Tim’s legacy with the organization?
On a personal level, when I started with the Wolves in 1996, Tim and his wife, Jami, took me under their wing. Tim was always the first to volunteer for the Read to Succeed visits to libraries. I got to know their three children and Tim’s parents and their whole family was amazing.
That doesn’t even take into account the influence Tim had on our team as a player and as a person in the locker room. He was a leader who did whatever asked of him [and] never complained.
It was shocking when Tim died. Cancer took its toll so fast. But you could tell the immense respect the Chicago hockey community had for Tim when the Wolves and Blackhawks alumni came together for the Breslin Cup game, raising more than $250,000 for his family.
The Wolves also celebrate Tim and his family before a game each season to remember and further his legacy. One Wolves player receives the [Tim] Breslin Unsung Hero Award—and one high school senior in the Chicago area who has overcome a significant obstacle gets a $7,500 college scholarship. The education part is important to the Breslin family—Jami was a school principal—and they choose the winner each year. One of the favorite parts of my job is getting to call the recipient and let him or her know they won the scholarship.
How do you select the causes and programs partnering with Chicago Wolves Charities?
We want to have an impact on our charities. If, for example, we’re giving $5,000 to an organization, we want to know it’s helping them. We have created some long-standing partnerships with local charities where we know our money makes an impact—and we’re close enough where we can see how people receive help.
We have a variety of charities, too. Indeed, we help breast cancer and pediatric cancer organizations, but we also assist in the battle against Alzheimer’s and homelessness. We support Special Olympics and some after-school children’s programs.
Hopefully, if you’re donating to Chicago Wolves Charities, a few programs are resonating with you and encouraging you to continue supporting CWC. That’s what’s important.