Holy Cross hockey: Pink the Rink has special meaning for Matt Vidal
Throughout the years, senior hockey forward and two-time captain Matt Vidal has been an influential player on the ice appearing in 113 games with 13 goals and 39 assists for 52 points. His 39 career assists are the most by any current Crusader. Vidal is not only passionate about the sport, but he is also passionate about spreading breast cancer awareness, specifically for his number one fan, his mother.
Vidal has been an instrumental figure in keeping the foundation Power Play Points for Pink in action for the past three years with his teammates’ support. Vidal holds a special place in his heart for the foundation that was founded by Brandon Nunn in 2011.
“Being a part of Power Play Points for Pink has been an outlet for me to give back to a cause that is close to my heart,” said Vidal. Vidal’s mother has suffered through treatment twice for breast cancer and is now battling pancreatic cancer. “I’ve learned that I can't fight the battle for her but what I can do is try and raise as much awareness for cancer as I can,” said Vidal. “Power Play Points for Pink has allowed me to play the game I love, while supporting the person I love and who has been my number one fan ever since I started playing.”
Vidal has dedicated the cause this season to his mother, after finding out that she has cancer for the third time. This time, his mother isn’t suffering from breast cancer, but from pancreatic cancer. “As she fights her battle of pancreatic cancer, I want to fight for this cause and fight for the most money we have ever raised,” said Vidal. “I want to do this for her.”
He became involved his freshman year when the program was just a year old and was created by Nunn. “Brandon emailed the team when I was a freshman and he asked if anyone wanted to participate,” said Vidal. “Of course, I said yeah and that I would love to, because at that time my mom was going through radiation for breast cancer for the second time, so as soon as I heard, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved.”
After two years of working hard to create the backbone for the foundation, Nunn graduated and decided to leave the foundation in the hands of then junior Tommy Dwyer and then sophomore Vidal. “My sophomore year it was me and Tommy in control and we basically just continued on with the cause and did the same things as my freshman year,” said Vidal. “My main role was to be in charge of sending out emails to donors and trying to get more people involved.”
This year, Vidal is joined by sophomore Paul Berrafato to run the program. The two players have had family members that have been directly affected by breast cancer. On top of his mother’s struggle, Vidal’s aunt is also a breast cancer survivor. Berrafato’s aunt was diagnosed and is now in remission.
Reflecting on his time with the team on and off the ice, Vidal feels as though the team has helped him develop as a player and as a person. “Playing on the hockey team with players from all over North America has helped me grow and mature as a person.” He feels motivated by his teammates who have always worked hard on the individual and communal aspects of the game. “Each guy has a unique story of how much they sacrificed and worked to get to where we are now. When I hear things from my teammates’ perspective, it really pushes me to work hard during the practices or games, when things aren't going so well.” Vidal feels that the hockey team has helped him to mature on the ice. “It has taught me to play for something bigger than myself.”
Now with the help from Berrafato and with the support of the team, Vidal has worked hard to make some new changes for Power Play Points for Pink, like making all games count towards the cause, home or away. “There have been several of changes this year,” said Vidal. “Originally, it was that every home regular season power play goal was scored would then attribute to a donor making a donation, but now we’ve made it that every game, home or away, counts. Another change is that I’ve tried to involve the faculty because our school is such a small knit community and we do have close relationships with our professors. So, I want to transcend from just a relationship in the classroom and reach for one for a greater cause.”
The purpose for these and other changes in the program is to reach a new goal of $20,000 by the end of the year. “The most money ever raised in a single season through our foundation is $17,000,” said Vidal. “We are confident as a committee that we can meet this year’s new goal through our new plan.”
His commitment to the foundation is evident to all, specifically head coach David Berard. "Cancer touches many lives with Matt's family being one of them,” said Berard. “The countless hours he has spent to spread awareness and provide support to Power Play Points for Pink speaks volumes of his character, dedication and passion for fighting this deadly disease. As a program, we stand along side him in his goal to raise $20,000 for this worthy cause."
This foundation means a lot to Vidal as his mother fights another round of cancer. “Even though the charity is for breast cancer, a lot of people have been touched by cancer in general and can relate,” said Vidal. He wants to raise money but he also wants to unite all people who are affected by cancer. “I want to get the message across that a breakthrough in one cancer can still lead to another. Sometimes it feels like you can’t do much but what you can do is support the ones you care about and the ones you love by raising awareness, raising money and doing everything that you possibly can so that they can find a cure.”
Vidal’s hardworking attitude is shown on the ice with his teammates and off the ice with his commitment to the foundation. He is, after all, dedicating the cause to his number one fan this season.
The proceeds go to Pink Revolution, so for more information on Pink Revolution, visit their website at www.pinkrevolution.org. To find out more about Power Play Points for Pink and to learn how to donate, email Vidal at Mcvid16@g.holycross.edu. This year's Pink the Rink game is on February 19, 2016 versus AIC at 7:05 p.m.