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Taking up the challenge

Former NHL great and 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Eric Lindros, along with internationally renowned researcher Arthur Brown, are inspiring a team of investors to take up the NHLPA challenge in support of concussion research

Jennifer Parraga, BA’93

Sports IllustrationSitting in the over-capacity auditorium at the inaugural See the Line Symposium, Eric Lindros felt a sense of hope. It came unexpectedly from Arthur Brown, PhD, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry Professor and internationally renowned researcher based out of Robarts Research Institute. Brown, one of the many speakers at the Symposium, was presenting his latest concussion research findings.

“I was excited to hear about his work,” said Lindros. “He was offering a tangible solution that could get people back to proper health following concussion much quicker.”

Lindros was then, and continues to be, the Honorary Chair of the See the Line. An annual initiative presented by Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, See the Line raises awareness about concussion prevention and the ongoing clinical and basic science research taking place in labs across the country and the world.

Physicians, researchers and athletes come together to share their work, experiences and hope for the future of care and prevention of concussions with the more than 700 community members who come to campus annually for the unique event.

During that first Symposium, Lindros learned about Brown’s research focusing on therapeutic interventions to treat concussion. Brown, along with Greg Dekaban, PhD, and Dr. Michael J. Strong, is researching strategies that focus on stopping the inflammation that is detrimental to healing; enhancing nerve sprouting that might underpin recovery and preventing the buildup of proteins that may lead to longer term cognitive consequences of concussion.

Their research has the potential to radically change the treatment and ease the devastating effects of concussion.

Lindros was inspired by the hope that Brown’s research offered and put together a plan to do more. He partnered with Brown to seek support for the research. And at the 2015 See the Line event, Lindros proudly announced the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) $500,000 challenge gift investing in Brown’s research.

Through their donation, the NHLPA challenged others to invest an additional $2.6 million for Brown’s research. It didn’t take long for several donors to take up the challenge and invest.

Western University alumnus Perry Dellelce, BA’85, was one of the first to get on board. Dellelce admits it was an easy decision. “It’s work that’s happening at Western,” he said. “It’s the University I love, and a cause that I believe in.” “Athletes give us such great joy, and as a society, we cheer them on, honour them, and even put them on pedestals,” Dellelce added. “So you have to ask yourself, why wouldn’t we do this for them and support this research that will ultimately benefit them?”

A former collegiate hockey player and Triple-A coach, Mark Teskey, BA’83, agrees with Dellelce. He believes research presents the best game plan to gain more information about how to prevent brain trauma and how to treat it.

While playing hockey for Western, Teskey had his fair share of injuries, with a few requiring surgical intervention. He feels fortunate to have been treated at the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic that helped him return to play in short order. This personal experience was part of his decision to invest in concussion research.

It’s Teskey’s hope that one day those suffering from a brain injury can also return to full health as quickly as he did from his own injuries. “I’ve seen it happen with the knee,” he said. “I’m confident we can make significant progress with brain injuries.” It’s why he chose to take up the challenge and invest in Brown’s research.

Business leader, and Western’s Be Extraordinary Campaign Chair, Geoff Beattie, LLB’84, was also one of the early investors in the NHLPA Challenge.

Sports and recreation have brought Beattie great joy and happiness throughout his life. And he attributes the development of his leadership skills to his sports involvement. “Sports have played such an important and positive part of my life and I feel a responsibility to do something that will ensure we find the answers for those who get injured,” he said.

Lindros believes that Brown’s research is on the right track, and while it will take a few more years to complete, with the proper funding, it will be successful.

“I hope people begin to learn more about Arthur’s work and believe in it as much as I do. One day his blood, sweat and tears will offer the best possible solution to the effects of concussion, whether it’s a result of sports or otherwise.”