Richards Also Classy Off The Ice

It was one of those stories that stops you in your tracks and leaves you misty eyed. You just don’t expect it from the sports section over your morning coffee and English muffin.

The news of the day featured Vince Naimoli’s latest temper tantrum; reflections on Tiger Woods’ victory in the Masters; the Red Sox rolling out a World Series banner the size of Rhode Island; Sammy Sosa’s debut at the Trop; an untimely ankle injury to Serena Williams; and college football players from Tennessee and Georgia arrested for beating up some people.

And then there was this.

The Lightning’s Brad Richards kept a promise — and it had nothing to do with the team, the NHL lockout or his injury rehab. He had said he would be back to participate – for the second consecutive year — in the Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s “Fashion Funds The Cure” at Tampa’s Saks Fifth Avenue. He flew in from his home in the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island to be a catwalk escort to young cancer patients.

According to the story in the Tampa Tribune, the girls modeled designer clothes and accessories and “were pampered with makeup, manicures and pedicures.”

“These are girls, that because of their cancer treatments, struggle with body image,” explained Lisa Orlando of the PCF. “It’s rough on them, so it’s nice they get treated to something so special.”

The account was accompanied by a photo of Richards arm in arm with a young cancer patient whose adoring look said the experience was, indeed, beyond special. You wanted that moment freeze-framed forever for that young girl — and then you noted your eyes had re-misted.

It was a reminder of what is important enough to be genuinely special. Winning at Augusta and unveiling a World Series banner in Fenway Park never seemed so inconsequential.

Some players have made better use of their lockout time than others.

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