When it comes to the Kelly family, cancer straight up sucks. Cancer sucks for every single soul who fights it in life. It's just not fair for a family to go through. One minute you are a seemingly healthy individual living life to the fullest and an exam reveals something that could not only alter your life, but also hurt several others around you.
In St. Louis, you can't say Blues hockey without mentioning the Kelly family along with it. Their voice will be attached to this franchise forever. In case you didn't know, legendary St. Louis Blues broadcaster Dan Kelly passed away from lung cancer back in 1989, nearly 20 years after taking the broadcast booth above the ice when the team played their first game in St. Louis. His voice is synonymous with unforgettable moments, mostly painful for Blues fans. He died too young at the age of 52 years old. Not fair. To his family or to a legion of fans who rolled through The Lou to the magnetic sounds of his game calling.
It's not easy calling hockey games. There's a lot of action and sometimes no stoppage in play. It's not like where baseball where three words can be uttered inside 60 seconds. In hockey, 45 words are fired per minute at least. Line changes, puck possession, shots and all the different names that must be memorized. I have more respect for hockey announcers than any other sports announcers and even more golf claps for the ones who do it great.
Dan Kelly was a great radio play by play hockey voice, and his son John is nearly as good on television for Fox Sports Midwest calling games for the Blues these past fourteen years. John Kelly has won three Emmy awards for his work in the booth. You may have heard him scream "thank you, thank you, thank you!" a few dozen times when listening to Blues action. Paired with the unpredictable wacky Darren Panger, Kelly does a superb job of calling hockey games, so much that an Arkansas local like myself hates when he can't find the Fox Sports Midwest feed to listen to the game.
Listening to sports on the radio and on television builds a certain comfort between the team and fans. An emotional bridge of trust that gets snapped in half every playoff session when NBC Sports dips their beaks into Blues action. Hearing Kelly on the tube or Chris Kerber on the radio gives me a comfort that other play by play guys just can't provide.
So when I watched a news report from KSDK's Frank Cusumano(a man I respect and feel honored to call a colleague at the news station) that revealed John Kelly's wife Jennifer to have cancer, it shattered me. A family that has already dealt with enough body shots from cancer gets another. Jennifer Kelly has breast cancer and revealed her condition to Cusumano in order to spread awareness. She didn't do this for self pity or a large group hug. She did this to raise awareness for a terrible disease that is relentless and deadly in its work.
I lost a good friend, Troy Siade, to Non Hodgins Lymphoma over ten years ago. Troy was a great man in his mid 30's who loved the Cardinals and life even a little more. He had a head of slick hair, an attitude that stretched across multiple zip codes and a passion that enlivened everyone around him. When we worked on the Manual Scoreboard at Old Busch together, we had so much fun throwing ice cubes at rude fans in the upper terrace, joking about Jim Edmonds or whatever. When he died I felt a sadness that developed into a rage. It's why I buy Jason Motte K Cancer shirts. Stand Up To Cancer Shirts. Cancer bracelets. It's why I ran in the Susan Komen Breast Cancer 3K in downtown St. Louis many times.
Hearing John Kelly's wife Jennifer fight for her life alongside millions of other Cancer patients makes me want to do more and encourage others to do more. Instead of coming here and complaining about Ken Hitchcock(we all know he sucks), this team(no end in sight), or their detailed problems(flip the page), I wanted to enlighten you about the fight the Kelly family and many other families tackle on a daily basis.
You can join Jennifer's fight by going to The Susan Komen website and donating. 80 percent of the donations go to the mission. Through Komen research and community, over 3 million have survived breast cancer. The goal is to eliminate it all together but for now you can at least throw a hip check into it. Or as I call it, kicking a leg out from under a beast that is slowly being fought every day.
Thank you Frank for getting this story and thank you Jennifer for having the courage to bring it to light so you can inspire others. Head over to KSDK Sports to see her full story.
As you were.
(in case you missed it in the STLGT paper)