Penticton Vees Cassidy Bowes wears the numbers on his sleeves of his Humboldt Broncos friends who died last year. Mark Brett/Western News

Penticton Vees forward going a cut above

BCHL player honours friends lost in Humboldt bus crash, raising funds for children’s cancer research

There is something that makes No. 92 on the Penticton Vees standout from his teammates.

You could say it is the mop of blonde hair tucked under his helmet (more on that later), but if you look a little closer you will notice something else different about Cassidy Bowes.

Stitched on the wrists of his jersey are two numbers — 18 and 31 — in Humboldt Broncos green and gold.

“It is in honour of two friends that played on the team and died in the bus crash. I’m just thinking about them each day and playing for them,” said Bowes.

Related: Penticton Vees mourning friends killed in Humboldt bus crash

Logan Hunter (No. 18) and Parker Tobin (No. 31) were once teammates, and friends, of Bowes.

“The last time I saw Logan was last Christmas break. We went to the casino, because he just turned of age, and then met up at an Edmonton Oilers game. We were able to play a few games on Xbox just a few days before the crash,” said Bowes.

The pair lived fairly close to each other in St. Albert, Alta. when they were growing up. Bowes’ dad was the coach of the peewee team they played on and Hunter’s was the assistant coach. Tobin was a goalie for the Broncos that Bowes described as “the nicest guy ever.”

The Vees playoff run had ended just a few days prior to the April 6, 2018 crash where a semi hit the bus the Broncos were travelling in on a rural Saskatchewan highway. Bowes was recovering from shoulder surgery when he found out.

“I was on Twitter and everything in my feed was about the accident. It was heartbreaking. I only knew a few guys on the team so I just kept searching their names. I had the worst sleep ever and when I woke up, a friend had sent me a text saying they didn’t make it,” recalled Bowes.

“I try not to get too emotional on the ice but I just want to try and work my hardest for them, how they would have played.”

Bowes writes their numbers on the tape knob of each of his sticks, but prior to the season starting, he had spoken with his family about wanting to do something more in their memory.

Related: Bowes flow a no-go for BCHL poll

“My mom mentioned an idea to Kerrsey (Brandon Kerr, Vees equipment manager) to have their numbers on my jersey. It wasn’t until the first community event of the season, the season-ticket holders ticket pickup party, that I saw what had been done. I put on my jersey and thought, wow, this is pretty cool. It was awesome that the Vees didn’t mind putting something like that on the blue and white jersey.”

His family is also considering donating to the Humane Society in their hometown to have a room named after Hunter, who volunteered his time there.

Related: Vees player fundraising for cancer research

And maybe it was the loss of friends that subconsciously led to Bowes wanting to do something for charity or something about giving back that runs in his genes. Either way, it was on his own initiative that he decided to grow out his hair to donate it and to raise funds for children’s cancer.

“We really take a lot of pride in the kids that we recruit and get to know their families. Cassidy comes from a great set of parents. He has the right morals and social values that we want in a player and we saw that right from when he was an affiliate,” said Fred Harbinson, Vees president, general manager and head coach. “He is a good kid and I love coaching him and seeing how he is growing as a player and person.”

The goal at the start of the season, through Bowes’ GoFundMe account, was to raise $9,292.

“I see a lot of stuff on social media about people having a hard time, especially children, and it really touches me. It is tough for people to lose kids and I just thought I could help out. Now everyone is coming together to help, which is really great. I just wanted to do my part, however little, to help,” said Bowes.

“Goldilocks” as he is now sometimes called by his teammates, is no stranger to having long hair. He remembers it being as long as the middle of his back when he was in elementary school.

“My mom wouldn’t let me get my hair cut until I was in Grade 2. She loves it when I have long hair, said I look like a surfer,” said Bowes, flashing a grin.

Cassidy Bowes of the Penticton Vees lost two friends in the crash of the Humbldt Broncos bus last year and now wears their numbers on the sleeves of his jersey in the Alberta team’s colours.
Mark Brett/Western News

Despite it getting into his mouth and covering his face when he is on the ice, he knows the annoyance is a minor thing compared to what many families are facing.

“My family has been really encouraging and they have always been the ones that are the first to donate to a charity and I just want to follow in their footsteps. I was taught that, no matter what, be appreciative of what you have and if you have extra then you should be doing stuff for others.”

His fundraising effort is being cut short. Recently, the B.C. Cancer Association announced they will no longer be accepting donations of real hair to make wigs due to the advancements in synthetic hair. Now the Vees are working behind the scenes to host a special night on Dec. 21 where he will chop off his long hair after the game. The Western News also wants to do its part to help and will have a booth set up for the Dec. 14 home game against the Trail Smoke Eaters where they will be accepting donations on Bowes’ behalf.

Neil Jamieson also stepped forward to assist and his Underwriters Insurance company has donated $92 to the GoFundMe campaign for each goal Bowes scores.

“It is just really awesome to see how the community has come together. Everyone has a different budget, so even it if is $1, it all helps the charity,” said Bowes.

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