MOLINE -- The March 24 Quad City Mallards game will benefit the Nick Teddy Foundation and pay tribute to a former local hockey player.
The foundation was created in memory of the late Nick Theodore Strub, a Port Byron native who played hockey with the Quad Cities Ice Eagles from 1996 to 1999. Mr. Strub died of Ewing’s sarcoma in 2011. He was 29. His father, Brian, volunteered for the Mallards as an off-ice official for six years.
The Nick Teddy Foundation is teaming up with the Quad City Mallards for the fundraiser at the iWireless Center in Moline. At 7:05 p.m., the Mallards will take on the Fort Wayne Komets. Tickets are $15 per person, using the promo code "NTF," with $5 from each of those tickets donated to the foundation to help defeat Ewing’s sarcoma.
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During the game, Nick Teddy T-shirts will be tossed at the game. Recipients can take the shirts to the Nick Teddy table on the concourse for a free gift card. There also will be a raffle for free registration to this year’s Nick Teddy 5K Run on Sept. 9.
Ewing's sarcoma is a pediatric bone cancer, said Darrin Pearsall, who became friends with Mr. Strub in high school and played with him on the Ice Eagles team.
"If caught early, five-year survival rates are over 70 percent,” Mr. Pearsall said. “However, widespread or recurrent disease has no proven treatment, and survival drops to less than 30 percent.
"The disease currently affects several Q-C area children and adults," he said. “Diagnosis can be delayed because it often initially resembles a sports injury. Treatment can involve up to a year of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, and is associated with many side effects and lingering health issues.”
Mr. Pearsall said he and Mr. Strub were friends at Riverdale High School near Port Byron who had a mutual interest in hockey. "Nick was a great teammate, a very smart player and always had your back,” he said.
He shared how, as teens, the two would play roller hockey in his grandfather's driveway and a church parking lot. They made a goal out of plastic piping, which "did not hold up as we got older and were stronger shooters," Mr. Pearsall said.
"When that one broke, Nick and I built a goal out of 2-by-4s and used a blanket as a net," he said. "Nick was always interested in engineering things like that.
"The rink we built next to the (Mississippi) River was another engineering marvel of Nick’s,” he said. "The boards were 2-by-4 posts stuck in the ground with plywood in between -- pretty elaborate for kids to build.
"We would play into the night, until the neighbors yelled at us that we were keeping them awake,” he said.
Mr. Strub graduated from Riverdale in 2000 and earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at Iowa State University in 2004. He married his childhood sweetheart, Krissy (Quinn) Strub, in 2008 after he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma.
In 2012, his sister-in-law, Holly Quinn Larson, of Port Byron, launched the Nick Teddy Foundation using his cousins’ nickname for him -- Nick Teddy -- because his full name was Nicholas Theodore Strub.
His mother, Nancy Strub, recalled her son’s love of the ice. She also recalled the ice rink built at a neighbor’s home.
"Nick found a plastic liner for the rink by calling around and found one all the way in Rockford,” she said. “When they found out what he wanted it for, they discounted it for him. He was not old enough to drive, so I drove him to Rockford -- in terrible weather -- to pick it up.
"The boys put it down, (a) neighbor pumped river water in and let it freeze, and luckily it was a cold winter," she said. "They built boards and used their rink for a couple of years when weather permitted. …They even bought floodlights so they could skate at night.”
She also recalled painful times, such as when her son was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in September 2006 at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha.
“He underwent several surgeries, radiation treatments and several difficult chemotherapy regimens without success,” she said. “He and his wife built a new house, traveled, and Nick worked throughout treatment up until the last time he was hospitalized before his death in 2011.”
Mr. Pearsall said Mr. Strub was an usher at his wedding in July 2011, boarding a plane the next morning for his sister's wedding in Hawaii.
"Months later, I found out that he was not feeling great but still wanted to be a part of our wedding," Mr. Pearsall said. "That’s the type of guy Nick was. He fought through his entire illness and wouldn’t burden others with complaints.”