Meeting Todd Davison left the impression that one would never forget him. For his smile, his enthusiasm, his heart and his drive -- Davison was unforgettable.
It should come as no surprise that three years after his death the Believe in the Goal foundation he started to raise funds for cancer research has continued to grow and this summer will move to the biggest hockey venue in the province.
Davison's vision was a two-day event that featured his friends from the hockey world putting on an exhibition as well as taking part in a celebrity golf tournament.
"I see a sold-out rink that's crammed with people, where everybody comes together to watch the game and everyone knows they're helping the cause," said Davison, prior to his death from synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that attacks the tissue surrounding joints.
Davison's fourth annual Sizzling Summer Showdown will move to downtown Winnipeg for the hockey portion to be held Aug. 6 at the MTS Centre while the golf tournament will go Aug. 5 at Larters.
A media conference to kick off this summer's campaign was held at Canad Inns Stadium on Tuesday and NHL stars Travis Zajak and Jonathan Toews, along with friends and family of Davison, were in attendance.
"Todd's looking down at us and he's smiling," said his mother Barb Davison, moved to tears of both joy and sadness on this day. "This is what he envisioned. This would make him so happy to see all this. I'm grateful that he did this and we were lucky to have him as a son, brother and friend. I bet you he would say, 'I told you I could do it.' For those who didn't believe, now they believe. And that was his motto -- believe. So he's looking down at us with a smile right now."
Davison, who died in 2006, created the Believe in the Goal Foundation before his death at the age of 20.
NHLers from across the country have travelled to Winnipeg the past three summers to participate and over $150,000 has been raised.
New Jersey Devils centre and Winnipeg native Travis Zajac was a friend of Davison's growing up and playing hockey in the city.
"He was a special human being and it's a pleasure to be part of this event. No one that met Todd will forget him," said Zajac. "Each year, more and more players want to be part of this. Guys that have played with him or knew him, all want to take part and this will just grow and grow."
Chicago Blackhawks captain Toews says Davison left some lessons to live by as well as his foundation.
"Todd left a great legacy and this is the way he would have pictured this. We're getting as many people on board as possible. The people arranging this and putting it together have done an awesome job. I arrange my summer so I can be here and we just want to put on as good a show as possible for the fans because without them it doesn't mean much," said Toews. "If I can compare myself to Todd, which would be impossible, as a hockey player we work hard for ourselves and for our team. Todd worked hard for other people and to change people's lives that have cancer. If we can take one lesson from that, it is to put that kind of effort into trying to help other people for a change."
Hockey stars move from ice to fairways
The Sizzling Summer Showdown will take place with a hockey game at the MTS Centre on Aug. 6 and a golf tournament at Larters on Aug. 5. The following hockey players have committed to appear:
Cam Barker, Chicago Blackhawks
Nolan Baumgartner, Moose
Alex Bolduc, Manitoba Moose
Dustin Boyd, Calgary Flames
Nigel Dawes, Phoenix Coyotes
Zack FitzGerald, Manitoba Moose
Jannik Hansen, Canucks
Darren Helm, Detroit Red Wings
Shaun Heshka, Manitoba Moose
Jason Jaffray, Manitoba Moose
Derek Meech, Detroit Red Wings
Andrew Murray, Col. Blue Jackets
Colton Orr, New York Rangers
Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks
Jordin Tootoo, Predators
Travis Zajac, New Jersey Devils
For tickets and sponsorship info please see www.believeinthegoal.com.