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Butler Hospital
Butler Hospital

Press Release

Two NHL Players Shed Light on Brain Injury and Mental Illness in Athletes

Special Event to Support Butler Hospital

Butler Hospital is hosting an event titled Tom and the Lion, which will tell the story of two men who made hockey a livelihood and giving back to the community a way of life. On Thursday, September 27, 2012 hear the stories of Tom Cavanagh and NHL Hall of Famer, Pat LaFontaine:

Even during his darkest time, Tom Cavanagh, Rhode Island native and hockey player in the National Hockey League (NHL), focused on the needs of those who were less fortunate. In his mid-twenties, Tom developed a severe mental illness, and after battling the illness for several years, his condition worsened and he ultimately took his own life in January 2011. 

A perennial All-Star in the National Hockey League, Pat LaFontaine was not only a great player, but also a great humanitarian in whatever city he represented throughout his career in the NHL. After 15 years in the NHL, he retired prematurely as a result of a series of head traumas suffered throughout his career. Pat battled depression, headaches and memory loss, all common symptoms associated with traumatic brain injury sustained in contact sports. Despite these challenges, Pat continued his focus on charity and founded Companions in Courage which installs interactive play rooms in children's hospitals called 'Lions' Dens'.  

Pat LaFontaine will share his story at a noontime fundraiser to honor Tom Cavanagh at the RI Convention Center Ballroom to raise awareness about the prevalence and impact of mental illness and sports related brain injuries.

To shed more light on the biology of a brain affected by mental illness and traumatic brain injury, the event will also include a presentation by Steven A. Rasmussen, MD, MMS, medical director at Butler Hospital and the Interim Chair and a Professor of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Alpert Medical School of Brown University. A world renowned psychiatrist and researcher, Dr. Rasmussen will share the effects sports related head injuries can have on the brain and how these changes in the brain can influence behavior.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Charity Care Program at Butler Hospital, which provides free psychiatric care to those without insurance or financial resources.

Sponsors for Tom and The Lion enable this fundraiser to be successful. Many thanks to the following for issuing their early support of this event:

Blish & Cavanagh, LLP
Delta Dental Providence
Journal Charitable Foundation
Cavanagh Company
Edmund Mauro, Jr.
Northwestern Mutual
Anne & Mike Szostak
Diesel Films, Inc.
Duffy & Sweeney, LTD
Hinkley Allen & Snyder, LLP
Providence Journal Company
Rhode Island Monthly
Yoder + Tidwell

Tickets are now on sale for the Tom and the Lion event on September 27, 2012 at 12:00 PM at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Learn more about the event and purchase your tickets, or call 401-455-6581.

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