For Sudbury, Ontario native Brian Savage giving back to the community and lending a helping hand is something that has been a part of his lifestyle for as long as he can remember. Starting as a young college student, Savage attended charity golf tournaments that were hosted in his hometown by former NHL winger Troy Crowder. He took his experiences from his days as a student and brought it with him to the NHL. As much as he was willing to do it on his own, the teams stood by their players and helped set up different things for them around town to help them succeed in the community.
“The teams definitely set us up to succeed in giving back by setting up visits to hospitals and food drives,” said Savage. “I remember doing Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners for the homeless at shelters when I was out in Montreal. They made it a lot easier for us to get out there, but all of the guys all wanted to do their part and be active in the community.”
For someone who spent some time in more than one city, Savage remembers doing many different things in each city that would benefit those in the community that were in need of some sort of help.
“When I was playing for Montreal they were in the community the most and were seen the most, you were always doing something out there. I did a lot of stuff here in Phoenix as well, not so much charity work, but we helped spread the word about hockey by getting out there and playing street hockey with the kids to help show them how the game is played,” he explained. “I didn’t spend too much time in St. Louis so I didn’t end up doing too much stuff out there at the time, but when I went to Philadelphia we did a ton of stuff for cancer and it was really great to help those people out that were in need of it.”
During his time in the NHL, Brian was remaining active in the community where it all began, back home in Sudbury, Ontario.
“I had a charity golf tournament in my hometown every summer that we raised close to $1 million in 13 years for the underprivileged children in Sudbury,” mentioned Savage. “When I retired I carried it on for the next four years, but the past few years we haven’t done it. I still do a lot of charity work down here in Scottsdale where I reside now. I do a lot of stuff with the hospitals and the kids in the community.”
Aside from his charity golf tournaments, Savage supports a Foundation in Sudbury called Ten Rainbows Children’s Foundation. Through this Foundation he gives money to parents that require special needs for their kids; whether it be a wheelchair van, hotel stays while their kids are having surgery, providing turkey dinners for Thanksgiving or even buying presents for the kids for Christmas, it is something that he is very proud of and gets a thrill out of as he touches so many people in the community and has helped change so many lives.
Brian Savage is somebody who has been affected through his own family. His niece passed away from leukemia and he continues to raise money and awareness in her honour.
“I donate money to different charities throughout Sudbury through Ten Rainbows, but I also help out another charity called the Megan’s Wings Foundation, a Foundation dedicated to my niece who passed away from leukemia when she was nine-years old, so we do a charity run every year for her and help raise funds for kids and families that are going through the same thing that she went through,” he explained.
“It’s very important to help raise money for this because when my brother went through it they couldn’t afford the insurance to continue the treatments and there’s a lot of people out there who don’t have the insurance or who are able to help their kids get healthy again and that’s the biggest part about it.”
As he continues to stress how important it is to raise money and awareness for this Foundation and the disease that takes the lives of many people each year, Brian also lends his name to the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation to help them get the word out about how important it is to get checked for esophageal cancer.
“I lost my brother to esophageal cancer six years ago so I went out on an awareness program just asking people to get their throats and esophagus and upper stomachs scoped because in his situation he didn’t even realize that he had it until it was too late,” mentioned Savage. “He had heart burn for his whole life and he never got it treated and the acids flashed up on his esophagus and rotted it and caused a tumor and that’s how he passed away,” he elucidated.
“If you go back to some of the articles that I wrote in 2007, I was trying to get the NHL team doctors to make it mandatory to scope their players at least once every two years as a benefit and to ask them if they have acid reflex or anything that’s going on that feels different in the swallowing or in their stomach,” he continued.
“The doctors never really asked me that when I was playing and I had heartburn for most of my career. There are probably a lot of guys out there that have the early stages of it and they don’t even know. By doing the awareness program I saved one of my friend’s lives. He had it and they caught it early because he read my article and went to get checked and they ended up saving his life.”
He continues to do what he can wherever he goes, whether it be helping out with charity, donating money to the community, or helping kids become something that they have always dreamed of, Brian Savage is someone who believes that giving back is something that every human being should take part in and get satisfaction out of, whether they are a professional athlete or not. His dream is to someday get the love for hockey out in Scottsdale and regions of North America that can’t afford to play the game because the interest isn’t there.
“I’d like to one day build a rink and have all the equipment there that way anyone can play the game because it’s so expensive. Down here in Scottsdale it’s like $400 an hour for ice time so not everyone can afford to play it or even try it down here and it’s a shame,” he concluded.
For more information on Megan’s Wings Foundation, visit http://www.meganswings.org/
For more information on Ten Rainbows Children’s Foundation, visit http://www.trcfoundation.org/index.html
For more information on the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, visit http://www.cdhf.ca/main.php