Forward Landon Ferraro Named Iowa Wild's IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year
DES MOINES, IOWA - Iowa Wild is proud to announce forward Landon Ferraro as the team's IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year for the 2018-19 season for his continued commitment to raising funds and awareness for Craig Cunningham's All Heart Foundation.
One of the pillars of the Wild organization and the AHL is that hockey is a family, not just a sport. Ferraro has taken this to heart as he has dedicated his season both on and off the ice to Cunningham's non-profit, the All Heart Foundation.
On Nov. 19, 2016, Cunningham collapsed during warm-ups before the Tucson Roadrunner's game against the Manitoba Moose. Cunningham suffered an acute cardiac arrest and required 90 minutes of CPR while being rushed to a local hospital to survive. Doctors saved his life, but due to an infection that caused his left leg to be amputated, his hockey career was over.
In the wake of his personal tragedy, Cunningham created the All Heart Foundation and teamed up with Dr. Zain Khalpey, one of the doctors who saved his life, to raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest and funds for research to save future lives.
The hockey world is a small place and your team is your extended family. Ferraro and Cunningham grew up together in Trail, B.C., becoming friends and teammates. The two are the same age and rose through the ranks of amateur and professional hockey together. Ferraro and Cunningham competed against each other in the WHL from 2007-2011 before both making the jump into the AHL in 2011-12. Both players made their NHL debuts in 2013-14 and worked out together during the offseason. This bond served as the genesis of Ferraro's desire to give back to the non-profit.
"I've known him most of my life," Ferraro said. "As we grew older, our friendship grew a lot tighter. We've always been at the same point in our career, going into juniors and going into pro hockey. We got to experience a lot of things at the same time and help each other through a lot."
When Cunningham suffered his heart attack, Ferraro flew out to Tucson to be with his family.
"Walking into that hospital and seeing his mom and being able to give her a hug, as much as I was there to help and comfort her, she was doing it for me," Ferraro said. "Going into the room and seeing him on the table, hooked up to all the tubes, it was a lot to take in."
This year, Ferraro embarked on a campaign spanning all 76 games of the AHL season. He dedicated his season to the All Heart Foundation, pledging $100 for every point he recorded with the Wild matching his total contributions. Unfortunately, Ferraro has suffered an injury-plagued year of his own, but his time away from the ice has allowed him to actively engage the greater Des Moines community to raise awareness about heart disease, sudden heart attacks and the All Heart Foundation.
Throughout the season, Ferraro has attended events to show that heart disease doesn't just impact the elderly or the unhealthy, but rather someone with any physical condition, age, gender and more. He's visited various hospitals to meet with those affected by heart conditions and has organized events to bring together those with similar ailments in an effort to foster friendships and show they are not alone in their struggles.
"It means a great deal for us to have a player that wants to be active and wants to make a difference in the community," said Iowa Head Coach Tim Army. "It's a very important facet and it fits to his personality."
Ferraro has also brought his activism into the Wild organization. Earlier this season, Ferraro organized a team event where the Wild became CPR certified through an hour-long training course with the American Heart Association. He's donated tickets to Iowa Heart Center patients to come to Wells Fargo Arena and meet with him following the game.
At various events this season, Ferraro has donated autographed pucks, sticks, jerseys and even a lunch with him, with all proceeds going toward the All Heart Foundation. Ferraro will be a part of a ceremonial puck drop ahead of the Wild's April 3 contest against the Tucson Roadrunners, where the team will announce his total donation to the All Heart Foundation.
"Landon really spearheading those movements this year, with the programs he's been involved with, really speaks to the quality of human being he is," said Wild Assistant Coach Brett McLean. "We're really proud of him."
Even when the regular season ends, Ferraro will continue to advocate for a healthy heart and a healthy lifestyle. He serves as the Wild's poster child for the team's Healthy Living Program in partnership with the American Heart Association, which promotes eating healthy and exercising in schools and youth organizations across the Des Moines metro. On May 4, Ferraro will be the captain of the Wild's Heart Walk Team, put on by the American Heart Association.
"I just want to help my buddy's cause as much as I can," Ferraro said. "My friend started something and I know that he would support me in the same way. So I just want to try to do my part."
Ferraro is one of 31 finalists for the American Hockey League's 2018-19 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, honoring the overall IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year. The league award is named after the former Hershey Bears forward and AHL All-Star who died in 1997 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. The winner of the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award will be announced by the American Hockey League at a later date.
The Iowa Wild 2018-19 season is presented by MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center and runs from October through April. For more information, please contact the Wild office by calling 515-564-8700 or by visiting www.iowawild.com.
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