By Lizette Robles - December 21, 2020
When the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, Tampa Bay sports fans held out hope that 2020 would be THE year. Those wishes have definitely come true in what has proved to be an unforgettable and unprecedented year in sports. Whether you’re a baseball, football, hockey or soccer fan, there’s been plenty to cheer about.
In February, the Tampa Bay Lightning were heating up the ice well on their way to the playoffs. Bolts stars Ryan McDonagh and Alex Killorn hosted their Kancer Jam fundraiser benefiting Moffitt’s Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Program. The event raised more than $100,000 to support fertility preservation for cancer patients.
The Tampa Bay Rays, coming off a magical 2019 season with a wild card playoff berth, partnered with Moffitt for the annual Spring Swing Sun Safety Tour to raise awareness and funds for skin cancer prevention and early detection.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, knowing the Super Bowl would be hosted in town at the end of the season, set their eyes on building a team to bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Tampa. Cue the GOAT, quarterback Tom Brady, signing with the pewter pirates.
But just as MLB spring training season swung into action and the NHL was less than a month away from the post season, life as we knew it came to a screeching halt in March. Games were canceled, seasons were paused, drafts went virtual. Fans were forced to watch reruns of old matchups on TV or look for other ways to keep sports alive during quarantine.
As the months passed, the leagues found creative ways to bring back live sports and hope was restored as our teams returned to the ice and the fields. And boy did they come back with a vengeance!
The Rays opened their regular season in late July in front of cardboard cutout fans at Tropicana Field. They hustled their way to win the American League Championship, falling just two games short of winning the World Series.
After nearly a five-month pause, the Lightning headed to Canada in August to resume play in a bubble. Their magical run, including an incredible 5 overtime game in the first round of the playoffs, ended with the Bolts winning the Stanley Cup on Sept. 28. Lord Stanley headed back to the Tampa Bay area to work on his tan.
And let’s not forget how the Tampa Bay Rowdies kicked grass to win the USL Eastern Conference championship trophy.
Moffitt Cancer Center cheered on our sports partners, socially distancing of course, throughout all these magical moments. We, too, found ways to get creative. While we missed our mascot friends visiting our campus this year, we managed to get them on a Zoom call to celebrate our seventh annual Mascots (virtually) at Moffitt Day! We were incredibility grateful to the teams for delivering meals to our frontline workers during the initial height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans surprised a special fan with a virtual visit, while Lightning standouts Braydon Coburn and Jan Rutta joined our AYA patients for a virtual game of Pictionary.
While seats remained empty and stadium lights were dark, sports found a way to bring a glimmer of joy back to our beloved community. Thank you, sports partners. We are SO proud of you and beyond grateful for your continued support of our Moffitt family.