Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Charitable Donations: Saku Koivu Foundation

Hockey Blog In Canada has tried to bring to light the number of great organizations that NHL players lend their names to in order to help others in their respective communities. There are currently 20 NHLPA Charitable Organizations listed on the right, and I'd like to add more. Why? My feeling is that hockey players are involved heavily in their communities, and I'd like to highlight their efforts in being good neighbours to all of us. Today, HBIC is proud to examine the efforts of Saku Koivu in his work to help battle cancer and obtain vital machinery to detect and fight cancers. Today, we look at the Saku Koivu Foundation.

Mission Statement: From the foundation's website, "[t]he Foundation was created with one single purpose in mind: to provide the greater Montreal region with a PET/CT Scan machine, a sophisticated piece of equipment used in diagnosing and treating various illnesses with what is known as Positron Emission Tomography". Since then, the Saku Koivu Foundation has been working diligently to help cancer patients in their battle with the disease while raising funds for this important piece of machinery.

How Did The Saku Koivu Foundation Start?: On September 6, 2001, Saku Koivu was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma as training camps were underway across the NHL. Koivu was en route to Montreal from Finland with friend and teammate Brian Savage, who had said he looked very pale. Koivu's symptoms worsened as he was experiencing stomach pain and nausea. After seeing the Canadiens' team doctor, Dr. David Mulder, for some tests, it was suspected that the Canadiens star had cancer. The only problem? He had to travel to Sherbrooke, Quebec for a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) test as there were no PET machines in Montreal.

Koivu battled cancer, and eventually defeated the disease after a long struggle through the 2001-02 NHL season. On November 13, 2002, Koivu announced that he was creating the Saku Koivu Foundation, in association with the Montreal General Hospital Foundation, to raise $8 million for a PET/CT scanning machine for the Montreal hospital. With this machine, early detection of tumours is possible, and determining the most effective treatment can begin before the cancer can spread. Essentially, this machine will not only save lives, but possibly reduce the amount of time spent in hospitals by patients as doctors can effectively begin treatments as soon as any sort of detection occurs.

With the work that is went into raising money for this machine through the Saku Koivu Foundation, the Montreal General Hospital Foundation was able to buy a PET Scanner. The Saku Koivu Foundation committed itself to raising $300,000 to help keep the scanner upgraded so that it is at the cutting edge of medical technology, and the newest console was installed in 2007. The Saku Koivu Foundation has also worked with the Montreal General Hospital to establish the hospital as a Level I Trauma Centre, specifically in an Injury Prevention Initiative and the Trauma Special Care Unit. The foundation pledged an additional $300,000 to this effort.

Here's a clip from TSN from 2007 regarding Koivu's fight against cancer, and his dream of obtaining a PET Scan Machine for Montreal General Hospital, leading to the formation of the Saku Koivu Foundation.

It's a legacy - the one about saving lives - that I, as a hockey fan, can whole-heartedly stand behind and support. Here is Raphael's story, the young man in the piece by TSN. Saku Koivu's legacy will reach further than stats and trophies. He will have helped many people with his efforts.

How Can I Help?: Well, as all charities do, you can send a donation if you like. You can donate online via a credit card through their secure webpage. You can also send a donation in via snail mail to the following address:

Saku Koivu Foundation - HGM
1650 Cedar Avenue - Suite E6 #129
Montreal, Quebec
H3G 1A4

If you have questions or are interested in helping out in some capacity with the Saku Koivu Foundation, or if you'd like to donate via telephone, please call them at (514) 934-8230.

The Saku Koivu Foundation, the Montreal General Hospital, the NHLPA, and the foundation's namesake - Saku Koivu - are helping the communities that they live in. It's time for us to help them as well.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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