TeamNEGU Blog

Kids Helping Kids: Ryan Kuchta

May 15, 2023

For Ryan Kuchta the words “Hockey Strong” encouraged him throughout his fight with T Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. A hockey player himself, Ryan’s love for hockey started at age 4 when he started playing. When he was diagnosed with cancer his doctor suggested he take on cancer like a hockey game. These wise words from his doctor began a journey that Ryan has since taken on with him now as a cancer survivor!

In 2019, Ryan was granted a wish from The Special Wish Foundation of Northeast Ohio to become a professional hockey player for the day with the Monsters AL team. He said, “They nicknamed me Cookie and it was an awesome experience to be a part of the team.”

Just like Jessie wanted to help others fighting cancer during her fight, this experience with the Monsters and the generosity of The Special Wish Foundation of Northeast Ohio inspired Ryan to “help other kids that are going through cancer treatment because so many people supported me and that really helped me get through the hard days. So, I asked the Monsters and Chef Michael Symon if we could team up together to raise money for A Special Wish and grant wishes for kids and they said yes.”

The Monsters dedicated a day to the event and sold special merchandise that Ryan created with the words “Hockey Strong”. They also sold special cookies, a nod to Ryan’s nickname from one of the Monster’s players! “Between the sweatshirt and t-shirt sales and the sale of the cookie we raised over $20,000 for a Special Wish Foundation. It was totally awesome, but I knew I wasn’t done, and I wanted to do more.”

Ryan is now working with the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Homage clothing company to launch the sale of more Hockey Strong merchandise. It will be sold on the Homage website, and he is working to get it into as many AHL and NHL team shops as possible. Ryan said, “the idea is that the profits from the sale of Hockey Strong Merchandise can go to various charities that support children battling cancer like [the Jessie Rees Foundation], CCF, and ASW.”

Ryan recently had the opportunity to visit the JoyFactory and stuff personalized JoyJars for kids fighting cancer with his family. “I loved getting these jars when I was going through treatment so it was nice to be able to do this for someone else and to pick out special toys I thought they would like. The JoyFactory was much bigger than I expected and filled with so many cool toys to send to kids.” He said, “My family and I loved visiting the Joy Factory and stuffing jars for kids fighting cancer.”

We are honored to share Ryan’s story and his efforts to help other kids fighting cancer, just like Jessie! NEGU!