Former Blackhawk Bryan Bickell Combines Rescuing Dogs With Helping MS Patients

In 2016, former Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and announced his retirement in April of this year.

He also recently announced the newest program that his foundation, the Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation, offers that will benefit individuals living with multiple sclerosis, providing to them a fully trained service dog free of charge. The first recipient of a service dog will be awarded at their July event “A Fetching Affair.”

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Photo via bickellfoundation.org

“Right off the bat when we found out that he had MS, initially Bryan was like, ‘Well, I want to use our platform in order to help other people with MS.'” said Amanda in an interview with WGN. “A lot of people with MS use service dogs…so it was kind of a perfect fit.”

“We found out that it costs upwards of $20,000 in order to train these dogs to help people, so we are going to provide it free of charge to people and there’s no other organization that we’ve heard of that does such a thing.”

If you didn’t know, Bryan and Amanda share a passion for rescuing dogs, specifically by addressing and ending the stigma surrounding the pit bull.

In 2012, the Bryan & Amanda Bickell Foundation was created as a result of a campaign called ‘Chicago Loves Pits.’

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Photo via the foundations Facebook page

Chicago Loves Pits aims to “promote information and awareness for proper ownership of ‘pit bull’ type dogs. Through this program we strive to educate the public about why dogs labeled as ‘pit bulls’ are just like any other dog who deserves love, care and proper treatment.”

The foundation combines different community outreach programs with fundraisers and provides proper education surrounding the breed.

Their website states, “These dogs are often misunderstood and mistreated as a result of their name. We work to promote these dogs for adoption or to aid in their rescue through our Bick’s ‘Pit’ program. We also work to educate the public about ‘pit bulls’ while providing services to low-income ‘pit bull’ owners…By working with ‘pit bulls’ who are rescued to adopted and have overcome abuse or bullying, we then focus on promoting the human-animal bond by bringing certified therapy ‘pit bulls’ together with  children who are victims of abuse.”

You may be familiar with one of the more popular fundraisers  the, “Bick’s Pits” calendar, which features the Chicago Blackhawks and other Chicago athletes and celebrities snuggling up to some adorable pit bulls.

In 2015, the foundation held a free health clinic for pit bull owners in Waukegan, Ill.

“Last time we visited Waukegan, we saw the need and knew there were tons of people who were interested in helping their dogs and helping themselves out and we knew we had to come back,” said Amanda in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.

Over 125 pit bulls were treated to physical exams, vaccinations, microchips (which is a chip that gets implanted under the animal’s skin as a means of identification), and free future appointments to get spayed or neutered.

If you are interested in attending the “A Fetching Affair” event on July 21., you can purchase tickets here: Eventbrite

Feature Photo via Sports Illustrated
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