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Blog: Fighting for a cure

Friday, November 30th
Blog: Fighting for a cure

Prior to October 31, had you mentioned the name Curt Gogol to any Solar Bears fan of the previous two seasons, you’d be bound to get a reaction; one that likely wasn’t positive.

During his time with the Florida Everblades and Greenville Swamp Rabbits, the veteran forward had several run-ins with some of Orlando’s more popular players. Gogol became well-known among the Solar Bears fanbase – some might say infamous – for his pushing-the-envelope style of play.

That perception of Gogol as villain has changed following his signing with the Solar Bears on Halloween, both in the locker room and in the stands, for different reasons.

Within the locker room, the past was quickly forgotten the moment Gogol threw on purple, orange and teal.

“Everyone here was welcoming. We’ve got a great group of guys in the locker room here, and I think they understand what I bring on the ice, and that doesn’t mean that’s the kind of guy I am off the ice. But I’m here to help out and do whatever it takes.”

Based on some of the chatter among the fanbase on social media, it was evident that for some, the adjustment period might take a bit longer.

“I love the passion that the fans have here,” Gogol said. “Personally, I have to go out there and do what I do, and I hope that they’ll appreciate it.”

As the Solar Bears prepare for tomorrow’s first-ever Alzheimer’s Awareness Night, presented by Bioclinica Research and sponsored by Brown Builders Supply, the evening takes on a personal meaning for Gogol. His grandmother, Marion Ruth Gogol, passed away in 2016 after battling Alzheimer’s disease for over a decade. She’s not far from his mind.

“She battled hard and she fought it for about 11 years,” Gogol said. “I’d go see her in Kelowna, where I was fortunate enough to play junior hockey, so I got to see her a lot more than some of my other family members.”

The Alzheimer’s Association, a non-profit focused on care, support and research to eliminate the disease, states that Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60-80% of dementia cases. The disease is progressive, where symptoms – most notably memory loss – gradually worsen over a number of years. Over time, individuals with Alzheimer’s lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment, and eventually, the individual loses the ability to perform most bodily functions.

The National Institute on Aging states that “Alzheimer’s disease is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, but recent estimates indicate that the disorder may rank third, just behind heart disease and cancer, as a cause of death for older people.”

“It’s a tough disease,” Gogol said. “Presently, there’s no cure. You want to stay strong, and be there for [loved ones with the disease]. You never know when you’re going to lose them.”

Although his grandmother is gone, she’s not forgotten. Her grandson continues to draw inspiration from her.

“You don’t take a day for granted. You show up, and you work as hard as you can, because you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Gogol said. “She battled for so long, and that’s one thing I always try to take with me, her determination and will to get out of bed and live life is what I’ve been able to take from her.”

About Alzheimer’s Awareness Night

The Solar Bears take the ice against the Norfolk Admirals on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. at the ARS.com Rink at Amway Center for their first-ever Alzheimer’s Awareness Night, presented by Bioclinica Research and sponsored by Brown Builders Supply.

Fans can purchase discounted tickets to the game by visiting orlandosolarbearshockey.com/alz. $5 of every ticket sold through this link will go towards the Alzheimer’s Association.

During the game, the Solar Bears will wear specialty jerseys that will be auctioned off following the game; a portion of the proceeds from the jersey auction and the Pizza Hut Chuck-a-Puck intermission contest will benefit the Alzheimer’s & Dementia Resource Center and further research of Alzheimer’s disease.

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