Illini hockey hosts Compete for a Cure fundraiser this weekend

By Sean Neumann

Cody von Rueden’s two worlds will collide this Friday night.

The freshman defenseman has helped bring about Illini hockey’s first annual Compete for a Cure game. The game will be on Friday as No. 18 Illinois takes on Eastern Michigan.

Von Rueden is a member of Phi Gamma Nu Professional Business Fraternity on campus and the fraternity’s annual fundraiser event will be coming to the Big Pond for the first time.

The event is held in honor of fraternity president Ryan Stern’s mother who passed away from lung cancer. Stern is von Rueden’s lifelong friend and current roommate on campus.

“It’s really cool to see the support from the hockey team and from Phi Gamma Nu together to get this great cause,” von Rueden said. “Both of my favorite organizations on campus are helping out a great cause and there’s nothing better than that to me.”

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All money raised during Friday night’s game will go toward lung cancer research, von Rueden said. Donations will be raised during the second intermission Chuck-a-Puck competition. Von Rueden said the foundation, which has raised more than $60,000 in the past four years, is also selling rubber wristbands and will have a booth set up in the Illinois Ice Arena lobby for donors to give directly to the cause.

The usual Compete for a Cure fundraiser will also take place May 4 on the basketball and volleyball courts in the “Six Pack.” 

Von Rueden said he wanted to step outside the box and make something new, to make an impact for his fraternity and foundation.

“I want to help my friend as much as possible and help an organization I truly care about so much, just like the hockey team,” von Rueden said. “I think there’s no better way to add (together) my favorite things in life, to help out with my best friend, the hockey team and one of my favorite organizations on campus, so I thought it’d be a good idea to start that off.”

Von Rueden said a lot of his Illini hockey teammates are excited about the fundraiser, especially senior captain Austin Bostock, who’s also in the same fraternity.

Bostock helped pioneer an annual Illini hockey fundraiser — “Paint the Pond Pink” — during his sophomore year and said the inspiration for the annual event came from watching other teams doing the same. But although Friday’s Compete for a Cure helps community members on a more personal level, it also shows a transition in team leadership.

“I was absolutely supportive of it, but it was Cody’s idea,” said Bostock, an outgoing senior. “It’s great to see the younger guys taking the lead a little bit now that we’re on our way out, because we’re not going to be here in a little bit.”

The series against Eastern Michigan will also celebrate senior weekend, and von Rueden, who is on the Compete for a Cure committee alongside Bostock, recognizes the importance of this weekend’s events on multiple levels.

“Losing those seniors is absolutely detrimental to our team,” von Rueden said. “Those guys have made a great example for the rest of us, they’ve led by example both on and off the ice, and they’ve been our top players on the team since Day 1.”

Altough the Illini seniors will skate for the final time on the Big Pond this weekend, the leadership they’ve passed down all season is already showing lasting signs with events like these.

“It’s really important that the hockey team stays involved in the community and these fundraisers keep happening because it shows how much of a caring team we are and we can give back to the community which has given us so much support,” Bostock said. “The community supports us so much, coming out to our games and giving us so much love throughout the season that any way the club can give back to the community, we need to take advantage of that.”

Sean can be reached at [email protected] and @Neumannthehuman.