It started when he was a 16-year-old kid playing hockey for the Peterborough Petes in the Ontario Hockey League. Zach Bogosian would be one of the players making trips to local hospitals. It's a popular community service event among athletes from all sports. But something about it pulled at Bogosian, particularly the families dealing with cancer.
He knew he wanted to get involved in charity work, to use his platform as a National Hockey League player to raise money for organizations doing the heavy lifting when it comes to treating cancer. But he was a hockey player and didn't know anything about setting up and running his own foundation.
Seven years into his NHL playing career and after the death of his grandmother from cancer, Bogosian was ready to jump in. And now Zach, the pro hockey player, and his wife, Bianca, the retired pro soccer player, are using their athletic platforms to run the Bogo Bunch Foundation and raise money for various organizations that deal with cancer treatment, research, and patient care.
The latest, The Zach Bogosian Kancer Jam, will be held on the floor of KeyBank Center Saturday after the Buffalo Sabres host the Vegas Golden Knights. The Kan Jam tournament will feature 64 fundraising teams (two people per team) with proceeds going to Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Fans can register or donate to the cause on the fundraising platform Crowdrise.
The foundation has become a family affair with Bianca doing much of the work during hockey season. And while the foundation was started before the birth of their daughter, Mila, she has certainly given the couple a new perspective on health.
"We're blessed to have a healthy daughter," Bogosian said. "We're able to see what we have and know we're very fortunate and in a position to help out other people. We look at it together as a family. The foundation started before Mila was born but as she has come into our lives, it's opened our eyes to what life is really about."
Bogosian suffered an injury in practice in January and the team announced later that month the 27-year-old defenseman would undergo hip surgery with an estimated recovery time of four to six months, rendering him on injured reserve for the rest of the season.
At times like this, it can be beneficial to be married to another elite athlete. His wife, Bianca D'Agostino, played three seasons of professional soccer, including losing a year to a partially torn ACL, and finished her career as midfielder for the Boston Breakers in the National Women's Soccer League.
"The funny thing is she knows when to leave me alone," Bogosian said. "I think it is a plus that my wife played professional soccer. I think she understands the commitment I made and she respects that. She knows that family is first, but that hockey is very close second."