Niagara Gazette

October 12, 2012

Dropping the puck for a good cause

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Policing the streets of the Cataract City can be a rough and tumble job, even for a guy as big as Falls Police Officer Bill Gee.

So, when Gee started having pain in his back about four and half months ago, he just assumed he must of somehow hurt himself,

"I went to a chiropactor, but after a couple of visits the doctor sent me to my (physician) and they did some x-rays and bone scans," Gee said. "Then the next day, my doctor called me and told me to come in after hours."

Gee said he knew right then, the news was not going to be good.

"He said to me, 'You have cancer and (the doctors) at Roswell (Park Cancer Institute) are waiting to see you tomorrow,' " Gee said. 

The veteran cop underwent more tests and the diagnosis was as tough as anything he's ever faced on the streets. The doctors told him he had stage four stomach cancer and that it was trying to spread to his bones and other parts of his body

"They said it's terminal," Gee said. 

But Gee has fought back.

He's begun intensive chemotheraphy and the doctors say he's responded well to the treatment. While the treatment, for three days every two weeks, leaves him feeling "pretty lousy," Gee is committed to it.

"The thing is they're pumping these toxins into me to fight the cancer and it's going into my healthy tissue as well," he said. "I may beat this cancer, but they say I'll die sometime from some cancer because of that."

A single dad, raising two teenage sons, Gee said he's doing his best to deal with their needs and his. He's also facing a rising mountain of medical bills.

To help him deal with that, the Falls Police hockey team and the Buffalo Sabres Alumni will try to skate to the rescue Sunday night. City cops will face off against current and former Sabres in a charity game at the Hyde Park Ice Pavilion with a puck drop at 7 p.m.

Tickets are available at the rink for just $10.

"We had been planning to play (the Sabres Alumni) earlier this year, but it fell through," Officer Tom Arist said. "So when I heard about Bill's condition, I contacted the guy with the Sabres and he said they'd do anything they can to help."

Arist, along with team members Paul Kudela, Jason Haug and Josh Miller, got the game organized and have been promoting it every chance they get. That promotion even included a Thursday night appearance on former Sabre Rob Ray's cable television show. 

"I was talking a little trash with (former Sabres' tough guy) Andrew Peters," Arist said. "I guess I'll have to looking out for him on the ice."

In addition to Peters, former Sabre Jay McKee and current Sabres Patrick Kaletta and Cody McCormick will suit up to play. 

"We're just going to be out there having fun. We're going to do our best to beat them," Arist said. "But it's really about raising funds for Bill and helping him beat (cancer)."

Gee said when Arist and his fellow officers approached him and told him about their plans, he was deeply appreciative.

"It's very humbling," he said. "I've helped put together benefits in the past and I never thought I'd be going through this. It makes you very thankful."