by Sam Scanlon ’19
Every eye in Schneider Arena is fixated on the home bench, as one by one the Friars enter the spotlight and take the ice, anchored by defenseman Vincent Desharnais ’19.
Standing at 6’6”, Desharnais plays the role of intimidator and aggressor on the ice, protecting his teammates at all costs. However, it is his contributions off the ice that have gotten him nationally recognized this year.
Desharnais is one of 17 nominees for the 2019 Hockey Humanitarian Award, which recognizes college hockey’s finest citizens for their efforts in their communities through leadership in volunteerism. Donning the “A” on his chest as the team’s alternate captain for the second straight year, Desharnais is no stranger to leadership on and off the ice.
In December, with the help of two classmates, Desharnais held an event at Schneider Arena called “PC Beats Cancer” to benefit the Gloria Gemma Resource Foundation.
“We decided to partner up with the Gloria Gemma Resource Foundation, because they specify in providing free services for individuals and families who are affected by breast cancer,” explained Desharnias.
This event was also hosted in honor of Providence College Women’s Hockey Team goaltender, Clare Minnerath ’20. “She was diagnosed with Stage 3 Lymphoma Cancer last April,” Desharnais said, “Her story was so inspirational that we decided to center our event around her.”
In order to raise funds during the event, $20 tickets were sold to members of the PC community, which allowed attendees access to food and beverages, as well as a raffle ticket for an autographed Noel Acciari ’15 jersey. Around 80 tickets were sold during the event.
“At first, our team’s goal was to raise $2,000…We ended up raising over $5,000 through our events and gofundme page within three weeks,” recounted Desharnais. The amount of money raised is certainly a terrific feat, but the leadership and determination of Desharnais is what set him apart and truly showed his character.
At first, not much money was being raised for their charity, which caused Desharnais plenty of frustration. Through positivity, he and his classmates were able to start raising more and more money. “I think my biggest takeaway is to have high goals and always stay positive,” a mentality that Desharnais utilized to have such a successful fundraiser.
“Also, if you want something, go get it. I sent over 150 personalized emails to my teachers, coaches, teammates, friends, and family members to let them know that I needed their help to make a difference.” Desharnais’ impressive motivation and leadership behind raising money for a cause that he is passionate about certainly shows why he is nominated for the Hockey Humanitarian Award.
Being nominated for an award for both on and off the ice contributions is assuredly a humbling experience, and Desharnais is well aware of that. He explained, “Being nominated for this award is truly an honor. I feel like not too long ago I was still in high school back home in Laval, Quebec. Now, here I am nominated for the Humanitarian Award.”
Since coming to Providence four years ago, Desharnais has matured significantly. From being a bottom defensive pairing player, to a two-year captain, to being recognized for community service, Desharnais has made the most of his college experience. It is clear that the Edmonton Oilers draft pick has mades strides both on and off the ice.
He is not planning on stopping here, however. As he enjoys his time reading to children in Providence schools, Desharnais has bigger plans for his community service. He stated, “I was passionate about the event and I would really like to hold an event yearly.”
Desharnais has demonstrated a tremendous amount of character throughout this entire process, and is incredibly deserving of this prestigious award. If you would like to support Desharnais and the Gloria Gemma Resource Foundation, visit www.gloriagemma.org to make a donation and find out more about this incredible cause.