New York Islanders’ Travis Hamonic Is the 2017 Foundation Award Winner
Mar 5, 2017; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; New York Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic (3) during the face off against the Calgary Flames during the first period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

The Islanders’ Travis Hamonic has touched countless lives with his charity work, so it’s no wonder that he’s the 2017 NHL Foundation Award winner.

When Travis Hamonic was ten years old, his father, Gerald, tragically died of a heart attack. What came next is nothing short of inspiring.

People who are confronted with an unspeakable tragedy can emerge from the incident in one of two ways: by surmounting it or succumbing to it. Said Jack Ewing, the influential journalist with the New York Times, “Any man can win when things go his way. It’s the man who overcomes adversity that is the true champion.”

Travis Hamonic not only overcame his adversity, but he uses it to help other ailing people, as well. It’s for that the 26-year-old Manitoba native has won the 2017 NHL Foundation Player Award — given annually to the player “who applies the core values of hockey—commitment, perseverance and teamwork—to enrich the lives of people in his community.”

Since January 2012, Hamonic has hosted at least one child and his family after every home game. He shakes hands, poses for photographs and signs autographs. Most importantly, he opens up about his own experiences.

Any man can win when things go his way. It’s the man who overcomes adversity that is the true champion.

“We’ve been through all kinds of therapy and grief camps,” Gina Dowling, the mother of three children, told Newsday’s Barbara Baker in 2014, “but I would trade it all for one hour with Travis. He really understands what the kids are going through. He’s been where my kids are.”

Through an E:60 profile and countless interviews including the one with Baker, Hamonic has revealed his true colors. “It’s tough,” he said. “I play a game for a living. What these kids are going through right now is real life. I’m reminded of that every night.”

Hamonic has found another way to honor the memory of his late father: before every game, he looks to the top left corner of the rink, to the area where his father used to sit to watch him skate in St. Malo. It’s just another way for the humble athlete to remember his past.

“When I turned pro, there were still grief issues I was going through, and still am to this day,” he said. “When I look back on my teenage years, I wish I had known more people who were in my situation and would have been able to talk to more people who have been through it. I knew when I got here that I wanted to help out in some regard with kids who had lost their parents.”

It’s that help that has changed lives — and is the reason why Hamonic, the humble son of Gerald, has won the NHL Foundation Award. “I know I have the opportunity to try to do good in the world,” he says.

Travis Hamonic is doing good for the world.

Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.