His Toughest Challenge – Former RMU Hockey Star Battles Cancer
Playing hockey during most of his 25 years, Chris Kushneriuk ’11 has delivered and taken his share of hard hits on the ice. But nothing could have prepared him for the blow he received last year while preparing for his second season with the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors.
It was then when Kushneriuk learned that the abdominal pain he was experiencing wasn’t due to injury but rather an aggressive case of testicular cancer.
Kushneriuk, a native of Ottawa, is currently at the Indiana University Cancer Center receiving treatment that he hopes will save his life. Unfortunately, since he doesn’t have health insurance in the U.S., he must pay for his care out-of-pocket; the total medical bill is expected to be at least $250,000.
Kushneriuk has a large support team that is working hard to raise the money he needs for his medical care. Back home, friends and family are holding fundraisers and charitable auctions. His former Wheeling Nailers teammates are also raising money and have set up a website to enable the public to make donations and follow his progress. An Indianapolis charity has also set up Kushneriuk and his mother at an apartment near the cancer center.
Here at Robert Morris, Kushneriuk is getting support from groups like the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, which held a ping-pong tournament to raise money for his cause. His former teammates, led by men’s ice hockey head coach Derek Schooley, have also been selling wrist bands to raise funds. To date they’ve raised over $8,000. Schooley even visited his former star forward recently during a recruiting trip.
“Chris was a leader on and off the ice,” says Schooley. “His work ethic was second to none. He competed hard every day in the weight room, practice and was a big game player. You always knew that you were going to get his best effort. Besides being a very good hockey player, he was an excellent student and is a world-class person.”
Kushneriuk, who turns 26 on Christmas Eve, majored in business administration at RMU and was a student athlete of the year. He was also a three-year captain of the Colonials and was twice named the team’s “most inspirational player.”
“His attitude has been tremendous,” Schooley told uscho.com “He’s been positive and enthusiastic, just like he was when he played for us. He was a real battler and competitor and he’s not going to let this beat him”
For more information on obtaining a wrist band to support Kushneriuk, please email Coach Schooley, at firstname.lastname@example.org. To make a donation, visit chriskushneriuk.org. You can also follow Kushneriuk on Twitter: @StoneColdKush