Features | 2/11/2014 12:00:38 PM | Alex Pagliano
Two weeks ago, Buffalo Bandits forward Shawn Williams announced that his son Tucker had been diagnosed with the fastest human growing tumor, Stage III Burkitt Lymphoma. The consequences can be fatal if left untreated.
Since then, the lacrosse community has rallied around Williams, his family and the “Braver Than Brave” initiative. From NLL players donating their per-diem money to TSN’s Bob McKenzie paying Tucker a visit at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, the amount of support – whether monetary or emotional – has been immense.
For Carolyn and Steve Toll, the organizers of “Braver Than Brave” – which is dedicated to supporting Tucker and the Williams family – the decision to help the Williams came without any hesitation.
“Tucker’s kind of like our second son,” Steve Toll said. “He is probably the best 8-year-old lacrosse player in North America. He’s also an unbelievable hockey player. But more than that, he’s just a great kid all around. He’s just a nice kid and he would do whatever he could to help a friend.”
Williams and Steve Toll’s friendship began because of lacrosse. The two spent eight seasons together in the NLL with stops in Toronto, Rochester and Edmonton. The time spent on the road together helped form a close connection.
“We met in 1998 and it’s kind of taken off from there,” Steve said. “We were always roommates on the road. We were around each other 24/7 on the road. We live just two minutes apart, and our kids were always hanging around with us. [Our relationship] has elevated from there into a special bond.”
Shawn and Steve, who live two minutes apart, frequently spent time at each other’s house.
“One night, Willy crawled in bed with Steve and it took me a lot of convincing to tell Willy that he could not sleep over,” Carolyn joked.
Over the summer, Steve spent a week in the hospital after having his thumb amputated as the result of a work-related accident. His children spent the week at the Williams’ household, running from one lacrosse practice to another.
“This summer, Steve had his own medical issues to deal with,” Carolyn said. “And, during that time, I think our children lived at the Williams’ house for an entire week. And they never asked for anything.”
The Toll family has the utmost confidence that Tucker will combat Stage III Burkitt Lymphoma.
“He’s a strong kid. He’s a very tough kid,” Steve noted.
Carolyn began to organize “Braver Than Brave” about two-and-a-half weeks ago. One priority was making sure everyone who wanted to contribute could do so in their own way.
“This movement started from a couple of women from Tucker’s hockey and lacrosse teams to bake some banana bread and clean their house,” she said. “And, I never imagined that so many people would want to do so many amazing things for Tucker.”
The community continues to pour out support.
This past week, Tucker’s school held a “Braver Than Brave” assembly. Each student created their own shirt to demonstrate support for Tucker.
The DEAA Road Hockey Tournament, scheduled to take place on Feb. 22, has been renamed the “Braver Than Brave” tournament. All proceeds are to be donated to the Williams family.
A number of prizes will be raffled off at Sports Gardens on March 1. Prizes will include box-level seats for numerous events, including a Buffalo Sabres home game.
Fans can also continue to purchase “Braver Than Brave” T-shirts at The Sabres Store at First Niagara Center. Shirts are on sale for $15, with proceeds being donated to the Williams family.
Further information on upcoming events can be found on Tucker’s support website, BraverThanBrave.com.