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Tom and The Lion Main Page

Tom and The Lion is a dual purpose fundraiser.

The first purpose is to create a movement about the increasing number of athletes (scholastic, collegiate, and professional) faced with the debilitating symptoms of mental illness. These athletes are often forced into making short-term decisions that have a negative impact on their long term success. The decisions these athletes are making are career ending, or worse, fatal.

The second purpose of the event is to provide funding to: (1) support the promotion of the movement via heightened awareness and 2) avail free psychiatric care at Butler Hospital to those who need it.

The following pages outline the details of this important event. Thank you in advance for your interest and your championship.

Tom and The Lion - A Three-Act Play

The curtains will rise at 12:00PM on September 27, 2012 in the Ballroom of the Rhode Island Convention Center for Tom and The Lion. This “performance” will be delivered in three distinct and purposeful acts. Attendees will enjoy a three-course meal served with each corresponding act.

Act I & First Course

The life of Tom Cavanagh

Tom Cavanagh enjoyed great athletic and academic success throughout his life. He attended Harvard University and, upon graduation in 2005, pursued a career as a professional hockey player. In 2008, Tom played in his first NHL hockey game and earned a point 37 seconds into the game (a San Jose Sharks record). As Tom approached his mid-twenties, he developed a severe mental illness. His condition worsened and intensified for three years before ultimately taking his life in January 2011.

Tom was most known for his humble nature and kindness to his friends. He thoroughly enjoyed being with family, and was famous for organizing Wiffle ball tournaments and street hockey games at large family outings. Although his first love was hockey, his favorite season was summer and spending it near the ocean in Rhode Island with family and friends. The Cavanagh Family is dedicated to honoring Tom’s life through The Thomas G. Cavanagh Memorial Fund.

Act II & Entrée

Dr. Steven Rasmussen explains the biology of the brain affected by Mental Illness and Traumatic Brain Injury

Steven A. Rasmussen, MD, MMS is the Interim Chair and a Professor of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Alpert Medical School and is the Medical Director at Butler Hospital. He has been repeatedly listed among the Best Doctor's in America, as well as the most Highly Cited for Psychiatry.

Dr. Rasmussen is an internationally recognized expert in the course and treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). More recently his primary research interest has been in neurosurgical approaches to intractable OCD and depression and the neurocircuitry of OCD. He is the author or coauthor of over 100 peer reviewed publications and has given many invited presentations around the world. He has been a leader in developing bridges between campus-based and hospital-based brain science faculty at Brown University.

Act III & Dessert

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. That combination was recognized in 2003 when it was announced that LaFontaine would be the first player inducted into both the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Minnesota in the same year. In 1997 Pat founded The Companions in Courage Foundation. The evolution of this Foundation began during Pat's years with the Buffalo Sabres. Dedicating much of his off-ice time at Buffalo Children's Hospital, Pat began to appreciate the power of another person's strengths. "Being with these kids - knowing their smiles, their pain and their courage - changed my life. They taught me about life and death. These children left me with a simple reality: We don't always have much control over what happens to us, but we do have a choice in how we respond." And that he did.

In 1998, after 15 years in the NHL, Pat retired prematurely as a result of a series of head traumas suffered throughout his career. After five concussions, Pat battled depression, headaches and memory loss. "As athletes, we are taught to be tough. You get up and shake it off. But you can't do that with depression. For me, the harder I tried, the worse it got."

With support and inspiration from family, friends and most of all, the kids in those hospitals, competing not for goals, but for life, Pat drew upon their courage and got through the most difficult time of his life. From that point on, Pat's fight for children took on new meaning and clearly defined where all his time and energy were going to be focused: helping kids through this Foundation.
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