EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

April 11, 2013

They share love of Umass Lowell hockey

Father, daughter fighting leukemia make trip to Frozen Four

Methuen’s Sebastian Bongiorno loves college hockey and, especially, the UMass Lowell Riverhawks.

For nearly two decades he’s been a season ticket-holder, vowing in the early 1990s to never give Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs another cent. And the ride the Riverhawks have taken him on last year and particularly this year, playing in today’s Frozen Four game against Yale at 4:30 p.m. (on ESPN) has been special.

“(UMass Lowell is) so good and so exciting to watch,” Bongiorno said. “Their defense is amazing. Their goaltending is amazing. They are a complete team. ... I’ve been waiting almost 20 years for a (Lowell) team this good.”

But, there is another kind of love — one that supersedes hockey — like the love Sebastian has for his daughter, Danielle Bongiorno.

Father and daughter are in Pittsburgh today for the NCAA Div. 1 semifinal to root on the Riverhawks. Their voyage to western Pennsylvania — and we’re not talking about the lengthy 11-hour car ride on Tuesday — is an inspiring one.

About a month earlier, Danielle was in the hospital being treated for leukemia. She was diagnosed on Oct. 16, 2012, after going to the emergency room for what she thought was a urinary tract infection.

It was leukemia, a treatable form. She dropped everything and immediately began aggressive chemotherapy treatments, needing to be hospitalized for long stretches, including a recent six-week stay.

“Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be going to Pittsburgh,” said Sebastian, who retired as a lieutenant from the Lawrence Fire Department in 2005 after 32 years.

“It just wouldn’t have been right, with Danielle sick and possibly in the hospital,” he said. “It was going to be myself and my wife, Linda, who is also a big fan. But I didn’t get any nibbles. Nobody bought them.”

The irony is that this was the first year Danielle and her fiancée, Caleb Hand, bought season tickets, expecting to join her parents for most of the home games at the Tsongas Center.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Sports

Local Sports Videos
Sports Videos
Jack White's Cub Face How Emmanuel Mudiay Ended Up in China Sterling says he's not trying to block Clippers sale Selig: MLB 'more popular today than ever' Eli, Giants learning new offense Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Longhorns Coach Disses Texas With Compliment - @TheBuzzeronFOX How Will Wiggins Deal Impact Potential Love Trade? Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Dareus fails conditioning test, Watkins lifts spirits Clay Travis On Mettenberger Punch & "Dumbest Fanbase" - @TheBuzzeronFOX Bowlsby talks cheating in NCAA Kluwe: How can Tony Dungy advocate felons, not Michael Sam SNC Minute: Phils lose; Lee set to return Eagles less than a week away from training camp Could Cliff Lee's health affect trade value? McCarthy and Stairs break down the Phillies' loss 105-year-old woman throws first pitch McIlroy wins British Open, Tiger finishes 69th Astros, Aiken fail to reach deal
Boston Sports
Shaughnessy: Dont count out the Sox just yet Blakely: Projecting the Celtics roster Daopolous: How will NFL cracking down on Defensive holding affect games? Jack White's Cub Face How Emmanuel Mudiay Ended Up in China Sterling says he's not trying to block Clippers sale Selig: MLB 'more popular today than ever' Eli, Giants learning new offense Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Longhorns Coach Disses Texas With Compliment - @TheBuzzeronFOX How Will Wiggins Deal Impact Potential Love Trade? Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Dareus fails conditioning test, Watkins lifts spirits Clay Travis On Mettenberger Punch & "Dumbest Fanbase" - @TheBuzzeronFOX Bowlsby talks cheating in NCAA Kluwe: How can Tony Dungy advocate felons, not Michael Sam Curran: Did the Patriots make a mistake by drafting Garoppolo? McAdam: Yankees pitching troubles bad news for Sox negotiations with Lester Curran: Will Pats struggle to find an identity on offense this season? Perry: Lester impressive again in Sox 6-0 win over the Royals