Here is a letter that I sent to the Seattle Thunderbirds on the sudden death of T-Birds colour commentator Bruce McDonald. McDonald died of Leukemia on Tuesday. He was just 41.
I am saddened by the news of Bruce's passing.
My belief is he found
great joy slapping on the headset and delivering the game to the listening
faithful. It gave him purpose. It gave him meaning. It made him a part of
something. That is all anyone wants in life isn't it? To mean something. To
For Bruce, despite being confined to a wheelchair, being on the
radio gave him a voice and equal footing with everyone once he entered the
He clearly loved to talk hockey, but specifically about the
team he knew, the Seattle Thunderbirds. His eyes often sparkled as he spoke
fondly about the players and the organization.
My last conversation
with Bruce was on February 14th when both he and broadcast partner Tom Beuning
visited my broadcast location at ShoWare Center prior to the puck drop. Bruce
in his wheelchair had a brown bag in his hand. He handed it to me saying, "Here
you go." When I opened it up, much to my surprise, I found a blue winter hat (a
toque as I like to call it). His mother Char had made it for me. Bruce's mom
promised me she would knit me a hat after I met her earlier in the season. For
those that don't know, Bruce's mom is a fixture at T-Birds home games. Char and
Bruce would arrive two hours before every T-Birds game and while Bruce was
preparing for the broadcast, Char would begin knitting. It was repeated time and
time again. The majority of the hats and scarves that Char creates from her
skillful hands are given away to those less fortunate.
Char is obviously
a special lady who brought up a very special son named Bruce. She was darn proud
of him and Bruce spoke the same about his Mom's caring heart.
Bruce McDonald's life was cut short by cancer, he lived a life that many able
bodied people fail to achieve. His voice and smile will be missed. When I make
my next stop in Kent, I will be sure to give Char a hug and for a brief moment,
sit back in the broadcast booth to remember Bruce McDonald and the happiness he
brought to so many lives, including mine.
Sincerely Regan Bartel
Kelowna Rockets Radio