Jon Cooper's fishing event raises $150,000 for pediatric cancer (w/photos, video)
Weston Hermann turned 11 on Monday.
It was a birthday he'll never forget.
With Lightning coach Jon Cooper hosting his second annual "Coop's Catch for the Kids," charity fishing event, he invited Hermann and his family to their Monday night kickoff event. After all, it is kids like Hermann who inspired Cooper to raise money for pediatric cancer.
Hermann, from Sarasota, was diagnosed with brain cancer in January 2014 and underwent 16 rounds of chemo. It hasn't stopped him from playing hockey, the center idolizing captain Steven Stamkos.
"I watched all his hockey highlights," Cooper said Monday on stage. "We had a little trouble scoring in the preseason, so watching Weston's highlights, we may have to sign him up for Friday (season opener)."
Hermann joined Cooper on his boat for Tuesday's event in Maximo Park in St. Pete, after fishing with Nikita Kucherov and Mikhail Sergachev. The event raised $150,000 for pediatric cancer research and programming, more than doubling last year's total ($60,000).
A huge chunk of that came in Monday's paddle raising. Owner Jeff Vinik opened the bidding with a $10,000 donation. "I'm good for it," he quipped from the back of the room. GM Steve Yzerman matched it. So did Cooper.
Then Stamkos stepped up, saying the players that were in attendance would donate $10,000. $69,000 in just a few minutes.
"I'm humbled," Cooper said.
ESPN's Dick Vitale, who has raised $21 million for pediatric cancer through the V Foundation, was the headline speaker Monday and Tuesday. He pointed out that only four cents of every dollar given to cancer research goes to pediatric cancer. "That's a crime, a total crime," Vitale said. "What Jon is doing is bringing an awareness. He's making a big impact. The impact he's making is going to stay."
The event will certainly stay with Hermann.
"This is the gift we couldn't give him for a birthday celebration," said Hermann's mom, Amy. "It doesn't get any better for him."
"And unfortunately," said Hermann's dad, Jared, "It will be hard to top."