Caleb Wyrostok is used to fighting for every inch of ice in the Western Hockey League. Now the Swift Current Broncos veteran forward is using that tenacity to do his part to fight an even more important battle off the ice.
Wyrostok’s life has been impacted by cancer at every turn over the past few years. Now he’s fighting back with his ‘Bronco Bucks Cancer’ fundraising initiative.
His mom, Charlene Wyrostok, was diagnosed with Stage 3 Breast Cancer in November of 2018. His grandfather has since passed away from brain cancer and his aunt was also diagnosed with breast cancer. Additionally, one of his favourite minor hockey coaches was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“There’s a number of people in my life that have been affected by it,” he explained. “When they were going through all the treatments and stuff and they are still going through treatments, I kind of wanted to find something that I could do for them because I know they were fighting their own battle and I felt like I wanted to help them in some way but didn’t really know how. That’s when I came up with the idea of doing the fundraiser page. Seeing them going through something, I just wanted to reach out and do something to help them and further that cause.”
“It was kind of Caleb’s idea,” added Charlene Wyrostok. “We talked about doing an awareness or some kind of campaign last year and then he ended up injured and that derailed that a little bit. It was Caleb’s hope to do some kind of fundraiser and awareness campaign related to cancer because it’s been such a part of his life last few years.”
He began with a goal of $2,500 by asking for pledges of $20 per goal and $15 per assist this season.
“It’s definitely been way more than I expected. I’ve already reset the goal twice and it looks like I’m going to have to do it a third time here right away. We started with a $2,500 goal and went to $5,000. We’re at $7,500 right now and I think we’re only $500-$600 away from reaching that goal,” he explained.
“He set a fairly modest goal when it kicked off. He’s had to since set a new goal, which is great. I think the support has been phenomenal from people he knows or we know, but even from people we don’t really know supporting the campaign for him,” added Charlene.
The 5’9’’ forward from Medicine Hat was a ninth round draft pick in 2018. He registered 17 points in 42 games last season, his second with the Broncos.
“It’s definitely been tough being away from home with my mom going through it. Then seeing my auntie and my hockey coach and then obviously my grandpa passing while I was still playing hockey. It’s definitely been tough. I’ve relied on the people close to me and my close friends on the team to talk to and help get me through it. It’s obviously been tough, but I think I’ve done a good job handling it and reaching out when I need to.”
Charlene Wyrostok was in Swift Current on Nov. 26 and dropped the puck for the ceremonial face-off to help raise awareness for Caleb’s campaign.
“That’s definitely a night I will never forget. Just for her to be out there and drop that puck after everything she has went through and yeah for me to be able to take the face-off it meant more than words can describe to me. I know it meant the same to her,” said Caleb. “I’m really thankful to be part of a great organization that organized that and reached out to her and asked if she wanted to do it.”
Wyrostok scored the opening goal that game in a 5-3 win over the Edmonton Oil Kings
“Scoring that goal obviously meant a lot to me and meant a lot to her. There was a lot of emotions going on that night and I think they’re all positive,” he said.
Charlene Wyrostok is proud of her son’s efforts both on and off the ice.
“I think as a parent your best hope is that your kids find something they’re passionate about and a way to give back to the community. For us we had the hockey community and friends and family support us so much that I think it just feels incredible to see Caleb take on something like this and find a way to give back for all of the support that I received when I was going through treatment and with my dad and all of our family and friends that have gone through this. It’s pretty amazing to see him take up a cause like this,” she said.
The Wyrostoks have been putting plenty of miles on the highway following Caleb’s Bronco career.
“We do get to a lot of his games. It’s nice and close. With him playing in Lethbridge and Calgary and Edmonton we are able to get to a lot of those games as well. Between both of our boys and hockey we seem to be on the road more often than we’re at home.”
Caleb is hoping that he can keep his family on the road even more with a long playoff run this season.
“We have a lot of skill guys on this team… I don’t think my role is to score a whole lot because we have a lot of other skilled guys that can do that. I try and chip in here and there when I can. I think my role is to be strong defensively and play that physical game and try and get other players on the opposing team off their game. We haven’t had playoff hockey in Swift Current for awhile, so I think all the guys are looking to bring that back this year. We had a bit of a slow start, but I think we’ve bounced back pretty good now and we just have to finish things off before the Christmas break.”