By KEVIN ROBERTS
You can measure the impact a coach has on players he has mentored in many ways. One way is when tough times impact that coach and his family. Hall-Southington ice hockey co-op coach Brian Cannon and his family are going through some very tough times, so fans are springing into action.
Cannon has always been there to teach the game of hockey to players at the youth and high school level in West Hartford—even when the pain in his right hip made it very difficult for him to get around. Now, current and former players, their families, and Cannon’s friends are here to help him and his family in their time of need.
Cannon was diagnosed with synovial chondrosarcoma, a very rare type of cancer that only about 2,000 people get in the United States annually, according to a GoFundMe page set up by Brian’s sister-in-law, Gail Cannon. A tumor was discovered when Cannon went in for complete hip replacement surgery on July 26. The cancer was confirmed on Aug. 1.
The cancer is not receptive to chemotherapy or radiation, which means Cannon’s right leg will need to be amputated. Part of his pelvis and hip joint also have to be removed. The cost for such medical work is high, so Gail Cannon set a preliminary fundraising goal of $50,000—which has already been surpassed, but bills have just started piling up.
“Brian Cannon, my Hall-Southington high school hockey head coach and amazing person needs our support,” 2019 team captain Mike DiPietro tweeted on Aug. 6. “Please consider helping out in any way possible. Thank you!”
“This is bigger than the game itself,” Michael Kwok, DiPietro’s teammate, tweeted. “Please spread the word and help out someone who’s given so much to the community.”
The community response to the GoFundMe account has been nothing short of incredible. As of Tuesday afternoon, $56,275 had been raised by 483 people. That money came in over the course of a week. There has been a plethora of comments on the GoFundMe page wishing Cannon and his family the best, with some comments coming from complete strangers. Fellow coaches have given their support as well.
“Brian is a dedicated, sincere and knowledgeable hockey coach and [is] such a positive mentor to young people,” wrote Dennis Tulimieri, coach of the Wethersfield co-op. “I admire his coaching acumen and have enjoyed his friendship for many years. We wish him and his family the very best. Lots of prayers go out to you Brian.”
“Keep the fighting spirit Brian. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family,” wrote David Harackiewicz, coach of the Newington co-op.
“All of us at EO Smith and Tolland are with you Brian – a class act, on and off the ice,” wrote John Hodgson, coach of EO Smith.
“Keep fighting coach!” wrote Randy Craig, coach of the Eastern Connecticut Eagles.
Brian Cannon and his family can take comfort in knowing that they have so much support behind them. To donate to Brian’s GoFundMe account, please visit www.gofundme.com/support-for-brian-cannon
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Kevin Roberts, email him at KRoberts@SouthingtonObserver.com