HOW NWHL & LOVE YOUR MELON PARTNERED TO MAKE ‘MEMORIES LASTING A LIFETIME’ AT ALL-STAR GAME
By Jane Norton
An incredible gesture by a donor led to a memorable weekend for two families at the 2020 NWHL All-Star Game in Boston.
Two pediatric cancer patients, 15-year-olds Ani A. and Caeleigh B., attended the All-Star Game through the NWHL’s partnership with Love Your Melon, the apparel brand dedicated to giving a hat to every child battling cancer.
One of the winning bidders of the NWHL All-Star Game “Penalty Box Seats” – a gracious supporter of the NWHL’s mission to advance women’s hockey – informed the league that his family wanted to donate the penalty box opportunity to children in the Boston area.
Love Your Melon made sure the tickets were given to young patients who love hockey.
Along with their families, Ani and Caleigh watched the NWHL All-Star Game from the unique vantage point of the penalty box. During the game, players – even ones who weren’t assessed penalties – made a point of skating over to the box to say hello to the guests and pose for photos. Among the visiting all-stars were Allie Thunstrom, Amanda Boulier and Madison Packer.
“I loved watching the NWHL All-Star Game from the penalty box,” said Ani. “I got to meet some of the women stars in the game. One of them got a penalty – even though she said it wasn’t her, she went to the box and took a picture with me! I was flabbergasted. I’m so glad I know how to play hockey because my mom did not know what was happening during some parts of the game, so I helped her by telling what was going on.”
“We had such a good time at the NWHL All-Star Game,” said Tracey B, Caleigh’s mother. “As a mom of three daughters obsessed with ice hockey, it was such a wonderful opportunity for my girls to see the best of the best showcase their incredible talents. From the All-Star Game, we literally went to two of their hockey games, and our car ride was full of chatter about how they were going to try to use ‘moves’ in their games that they saw NWHL players made! The ice level seats in the penalty box made each of them have the unique experience of really feeling like a part of the fast-paced game.”
Through Love Your Melon’s Game Night Program, the organization has partnered with major league teams to provide hundreds of families with unforgettable experiences. Ani, Caleigh and their guests received Love Your Melon hats, as did all of the NWHL All-Star players.
“Thank you to the NWHL and Love Your Melon for affording my daughters this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Caleigh’s mom. “We made memories that will last a lifetime.”
Ani’s mother, Deanna, wrote the following yesterday to the NWHL:
"When Ani was going through treatments at MGH, hockey became our lifesaver. I didn't know a single thing about hockey. But seeing how much Ani loved it and how it brought her so much joy, I became a fan, too. Over the years, we've been very fortunate to have been given opportunities to attend various hockey games. From the Bruins to the Panthers and Harvard men's and women's games and Northeastern women's games, too.
“Ani was beyond excited about Sunday's NWHL All-Star Game. The thought of the best players all in one place was incredibly exciting for her. She plays hockey for her high school – the Thunderbirds in Cranston, Rhode Island.
“There's something really special about hockey and its players. They are so rough and tough on the ice but off the ice, they are the kindest, most loving people. They have so much heart. Ani often talks about how her love for Milan Lucic made her a warrior and that's how she beat brain cancer! We truly enjoyed our penalty box experience at the NWHL All-Star Game. We even got to hang out with Allie Thunstrom during her penalty! She was hilarious! We had some great laughs in those two minutes!
“It is so empowering for our female youth to have a great group of ladies to look up to.”
Fifty percent of net profit from the sale of all Love Your Melon products is given to support charitable programming through the Love Your Melon Fund and the nonprofits they support. With their partners like the NWHL, Love Your Melon creates therapeutic experiences and funds charitable programming initiatives for children and families battling cancer.
“We are excited to provide families with children undergoing cancer treatment memorable experiences during a difficult time,” said Zachary Quinn of Love Your Melon. “Your support enables us to continue our Game Night Program, providing opportunities to families such as tickets to the NWHL All-Star Game. Together we will continue to make the largest impact possible in the lives of children battling cancer.”
For more information on Love Your Melon, visit loveyourmelon.com.
Photo Credit: Michelle Jay