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Revitalized Gordie Howe returns home to be honored

Revitalized Gordie Howe returns home to be honored
revitalized-gordie-howe-returns-home-to-be-honored


In some ways, the Kinsmen Club of Saskatoon's Los Angeles Kings Authentic Jersey annual sports celebrity dinner has become iconic. Held every year since 1960, the Saskatchewan service club's signature event has continued to highlight grassroots sports achievements on both the individual and team level while at the same time attracting world-class athletes such as John Elway, Bo Jackson, Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic and a guy named Wayne Gretzky. And every year, the volunteers who put the dinner together wonder, how do we top last year's event? Now the group knows the answer to that question, Brayden Richards, a member of the organizing committee, told ESPN.com this week. That's because for all the events that have taken place in more than half a century, it's hard to imagine Friday's dinner will be surpassed for what its guests of honor represent to the province, the country and the game of hockey. Magical? A place in time? Hard to argue either. Friday's dinner will be hosted by Gretzky, and the guest of honor will be Gordie Howe, the Saskatchewan native who is known the world over as Mr. Hockey. Of course, Howe's health has become an ongoing story for hockey fans around the world, which only adds to the build-up for this year's event in Saskatoon. Already suffering from dementia, a severe Chris Kreider Kids Jersey stroke suffered by Howe last fall prompted an outpouring of support from around the NHL, while fans feared the worst for the 86-year-old icon. Then, after stem cell transplant procedures that took place in Mexico in early December, Howe has bounced back in remarkable fashion, according to various family members. So dramatic has been his recovery that what was once unthinkable, a trip to his home province and the city where he spent much of his childhood, was now back within the realm of possibility. The organizing committee in Saskatoon knew of Howe's setbacks early in the fall and of course were buoyed by the reports of his weight gain and overall recovery following the stem cell procedures, all of which led to confirmation that Howe would indeed attend the Saskatoon event. "It's been a real emotional rollercoaster," Richards said. And while there are no guarantees when you are talking about a person who has endured what Howe has endured in recent months -- and the fact is he still has good days and bad days -- the hope is that he will mount the stage Friday night and meet with Gretzky, the boy who once idolized the great Detroit Red Wing before embarking on a career that would in itself become iconic. Needless to say, when word got out that Howe was in fact feeling well enough to attend the dinner, the local community was enthralled. The Kinsmen added tables to the facility in downtown Saskatoon, and every ticket was bought up in record time. There was interest media-wise locally, nationally http://www.authenticbruinsshop.com/authentic-63-brad-marchand-jersey.html and internationally. Businesses and individuals have paid in the tens of thousands of dollars for tables with the many celebrities who are expected to attend the dinner. (Five years ago when Howe, Gretzky and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper were at the event, some attendees paid $20,000 for a seat at Gretzky’s table.) Extended members of the Howe and Gretzky families are expected to converge on the prairie city, along with the Hull family, Howe's former teammate Ted Lindsay, Kelly Chase and Colby Armstrong. Howe's younger brother Vic, 85, died earlier this week in Moncton, New Brunswick. Proceeds from the event go to a variety of charitable groups, but some of the monies raised this year will, at the request of the Howe family, go to the study of dementia and/or Alzheimer's. Richards is reluctant to guess at what the response will be to Howe on Friday night. "I've seen how proud people are http://www.officialpredatorsstore.com/authentic-7-matt-cullen-jersey.html here in this province, especially when it comes to someone who's grown up in this area," he said. "With a guy like Gordie, his name is Mr. Hockey. The support is going to be astounding."

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