Photos courtesy of Jess Lawson.
Assistant Multimedia Editor
When her phone first started ringing, freshman Jess Lawson of Montpelier, Vt. was not quite sure how to respond. Her phone was receiving a call from a number with a Boston area code, and after answering, she heard a man with a French accent on the other end of the phone.
Surprised by the combination of phone number and unfamiliar accent, Lawson was even more stunned to hear that she had just been chosen as the winner of a recent auction with the grand prize being a goalie’s mask that belonged to a local Boston hero, Tim Thomas.
“It was pretty awesome. Nothing this big has ever happened to me before, and especially coming from a small town, little things happen and you get excited, but to be chosen for something like this? I never would’ve expected it in a million years,” said Lawson, a lifelong Bruins fan and current member of the Springfield College field hockey team.
The Thomas mask was no ordinary practice helmet either. Lawson was the fortunate one who would be receiving Thomas’s “Movember [sic] mask,” which was auctioned off to help raise money for prostate cancer research.
Worn by Thomas during the entirety of the November month for the 2011-2012 season, the mask seemed to bring luck to Thomas, the Bruins and the Tim Thomas Foundation; both the Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup winners went undefeated in the month (9-0-0 and 12-0-1, respectively) and Thomas’s foundation raised somewhere north of $40,000 for his charity, which focuses on raising funds for diseases that affect men, the less fortunate and the ill-educated.
After hearing about the auction, Lawson and her mother both donated money in exchange for raffle tickets, which were given away at a reasonable price if the tickets were purchased in large quantity.
“I got to go to the suite [in TD Garden] and watch the Montreal Canadians-Boston Bruins game,” said Lawson. “We watched the game and thank goodness, they won. After that, [my family and I] got to meet Tim and he gave me the mask. It was really cool.
“When he came out, he was such a gentleman; he was so nice. He actually wanted to be there and talk to us,” said Lawson.
theScore’s Paul Brothers catches up with Tim Thomas to discuss his new mask which is dedicated to prostate cancer awareness.
Ironically enough, Lawson and Thomas, a University of Vermont graduate, hit it off as they both knew a family friend of someone Lawson graduated high school with, as well as some co-workers of Lawson’s father, whom Thomas met when he traveled with the Stanley Cup to Vermont over this past summer.
“Tim going to UVM is a big thing for us because he’s in the NHL and he went to Vermont,” said Lawson. “He’s a big part of our state, and [the Tim Thomas Foundation is] a new foundation and I thought, ‘Why not give back?’”
“After bringing the mask home and really realizing what I had and seeing how much of a difference it could make, I thought, ‘Why don’t I bring the helmet around to local ice rinks and show it and hopefully see if people would maybe donate to his charity?’” said Lawson. “I really wanted to give back to Tim because him giving that part of his career to me was a huge deal, and I understood that; I understand through playing sports and going through school, accomplishing something like that is a huge deal.”
With that in mind, Lawson thought that she could raise money and awareness for Thomas’s foundation, which is designed to “support the underdog.”
Lawson took the opportunity this past intersession to give back. She started a bank account to help support her cause, planned her visits and began bringing the mask to various locations around her hometown and various ice rinks near Montpelier.
“I went to my local ice rink in Montpelier and I got a few donations. Then, people heard about it and they emailed me and called me and said, ‘I’d love to make a donation,’ so I went to local places like that and they gave me checks and cash,” said Lawson.
Unfortunately, due to all the formalities of getting the program started, Lawson wasn’t able to visit as many rinks and raise as much money as she initially hoped for, yet the time constraint will not hold her back.
“I was trying to see if I could go [to Burlington, Vt. where the Catamounts play], but I didn’t quite have enough time to get into that. Hopefully over spring break, when I’m home, I’ll keep it going and see if I can keep raising money.”
With the drive she has shown to give back already, there is no denying Lawson’s plan to continue to pay it forward and help others. With Lawson’ assistance and the help of others, the Tim Thomas Foundation may just score the game winner.