HICKSVILLE, Long Island— Ray Pfeifer isn’t you’re typical New York Islanders fan. The retired 28-year FDNY firefighter has been rooting for the team for as long as he’s been alive.
“As a kid out of high school I used to go and watch the games,” he told PIX11 News. “We would go and watch every single game and those were the tough years but they paid off in the 80s.”
So it was an epic dream come true when the Hicksville resident was tapped to drop the puck in a pre-game ceremony Saturday ahead of the Islanders–Penguins game at Barclays Center.
More importantly, he’ll be accompanied by a certain someone.
“None other than Clark Gillies who is one of my all-time, he’s a fighter!” a giddy Pfeifer said.
While the Hockey Hall of Famer has proven that on the ice, it’s Pfeifer who’s fighting a bigger fight – one to live.
A 9/11 first responder, the former firefighter is battling stage 4 terminal Cancer from his time at Ground Zero.
Called the “Definition of heroism” by Mayor Bill de Blasio, Pfeifer was a key player in getting the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act passed.
Its why the Islanders, in partnership with Amgen Breakaway From Cancer, and Barclays Center will pay tribute to the selfless hero.
“I think my job actually really prepared me for bad things, for the cancer and not to feel sorry for yourself,” he said.
It’s that attitude that has taken Pfeifer far and as his big night nears, the anticipation of it all will probably send him over the edge.
“Let me tell you – Cancer is gonna be the last thing I’m thinking about tomorrow,” he said. “You know even though I won’t be able to walk out there, you know, I mean just the excitement its going to hold me down for a while.”