This blog is dedicated to my new friend Jake Wisniewski.
Jake Wisniewski is a huge Devils fan.
A few months ago, Tom Guilitti announced on his Fire and Ice blog about raising money for Jake's transplant. Jake has Cystic Fibrosis and was in need of a double lung transplant. The Devils fan base rallied and I recalled getting e-mails from friends and colleagues to attend his Clifton fundraiser.
Then one day, I got an e-mail from Jake himself.
Can you help spread the word thru eklunds site to help fundraise
That is where it began. I e-mailed Jake back and then we started out having conversations about the transplant and about his favorite team, the New Jersey Devils.
Jake is originally from Poland and came over to the United States when he was 4 years old. His favorite players were Krzysztof Oliwa and Mariusz Czerkawski. A Devils fan since 1994, he couldn't understand why anyone would root for the New York Rangers when the Devils are Jersey's team. Like the rest of the New Jersey faithful, we went on to watch Scott Stevens and Martin Brodeur bring three Stanley Cups to the Garden State.
"Having Cystic Fibrosis, I spent many days in the hospital and I remember meeting a bunch of the guys when they did their hospital visits before the Christmas holidays," Wisniewski said. "Three guys that still stick in my mind are Niedermayer, Kevin Dean and Jim McKenzie."
Jake started working as an intern for the MSG Network in 2005 during his freshman year in college. Eventually, he moved onto a full time graphics job. You see his graphics on every Devils game telecast. You may remember him on TV at the last Devils home game when they shaved his head.
"The haircut story is a bit funny," Wisniewski said. "The main audio guy in the truck grows a beard/mustache like crazy. So he and I made a bet. He had to be clean shaven for all the remaining home games. For every game remaining that he didn’t shave, he would have to donate $100 to the CF foundation. So he made it all the way to the last game of the season and everyone in the truck pitched in whatever amount to get a swipe of my head."
After the season was over, Jake's condition got worse and was told he would need a double lung transplant in the near future.
"The whole transplant thing is nuts," Wisniewski said.
Jake described his ordeal of finding a match and when they did find one, he had surgery on the day of his fundraiser in Clifton. The surgery took about 3 and half hours, which a procedure like this normally takes about 6-8 hours. The surgeon remarked to Jake's mother that this was the easiest transplant surgery he has ever done.
I am happy to say that Jake is getting better and stronger each day. And what I am most happy about is how the entire Tri-State hockey community is pitching in and helping out.
Today is A Night for Jake.
From 7:00PM-10:00PM EST tonight at the Local West Beer Garden (8th Ave and 33rd Street in New York City), there will be a fundraiser for Jake Wisniewski. Appearances by Zach Parise, Andy Greene, Johan Hedberg, Matt Loughlin, Ken Daneyko, more will be there. Also, other New York greats such as Brian Leetch and Butch Goring will be there as well current players Brian Boyle, Brandon Prust, Matt Moulson and Michael Grabner. You must be 21 or older to attend the event.
Admission is $50 which includes a 3 power hour beer open bar and appetizers. You can order your tickets online by going here: Purchase tickets here
If you can't make it, you can certainly donate here: Jake’s COTA page
All proceeds will go towards helping Jake, who has Cystic Fibrosis and underwent a double-lung transplant on June 25 at Newark Beth Israel Hospital, pay for the $100,000 of medical expenses.
Jake wants to thank the Local West Beer Garden for hosting this event and the entire hockey community.
It was a classy move by all parties involved, including the MSG Network, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, and New York Islanders.
This is part of the business I enjoy the most and having this blog has given me the honor of meeting good people like Jake. I get to meet real hockey fans and people that makes this sport so great and unique.
"The Devils are truly built for this time of year."
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