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Andrew D’Agostini, the PhilanthroBeast

How the ECHL goaltender helps his career and others at the same time.

Brampton Beast

Andrew D’Agostini, goaltender for the Montreal Canadiens’ ECHL affiliate, the Brampton Beast, relishes the opportunity he’s being offered as a public figure, and is very outgoing about sharing his time to the benefit of others.

“I got to a point in my OHL career where I started to see the difference I could make, the voice that I could have in the community and the impact. It was really as simple as going out of your way to say hi to a fan and see the smile on their face.”

It was a chance meeting with a fan with cystic fibrosis that led to D’Agostini igniting his philanthropic side with the creation of Saves For CF, a foundation that raises money to find a cure.

“I love how much it’s progressed as it’s gone from a kid saying ‘thank you’ for signing an autograph to the point where I am getting direct messages from parents of kids with CF, just not being able to express how thankful they are to have someone like me in their corner.”

D’Agostini has managed to leave his mark everywhere he’s played: Peterborough Petes, Guelph Gryphons, and the Brampton Beast. Saves For CF has raised in the area of $100,000 toward finding a cure, with proceeds raised typically donated to CF Canada, while proceeds from Guelph fundraisers go directly the University research laboratory.

“After my first year at Guelph, we won the Ontario championship, and there was a month of exams before heading to the National championship. One day I picked up the school paper, and on the front cover is ‘Cystic Fibrosis research being done on campus.’ I couldn’t believe it! We’re a month away from getting a cheque from Saves For CF from a local bar that sponsored us, and so we connected with these researchers.

“Every year I get to go to see one of the labs where they are doing the CF research in, the containers, the potions being poured, the microscopes, I’ve seen where they do it, I’ve seen where they work, and I bug them every time I go there, ‘So where are we at? Has there been any progress?’ We think that things are looking really promising for a cure, for a pill, which is as good as a cure. I mean once you get to talking about a pill, the patients are going to have to worry about having to afford that, but let’s just get there first, give them that opportunity first.”

Call it a symbiotic relationship, as D’Agostini is cognizant of the reality that reaching his goal of playing in the NHL is very challenging, but he draws strength and motivation from the people he meets while promoting the foundation.

“What I could not put a price on is the difference it has made for me. The balance it’s created in my life, because sometimes it’s very unbalanced. Hockey can be stressful; home can be stressful. This is a thing you can always look back on, and just remember to look at what you are doing for other people. You should feel real good about that.

“It’s been amazing to me to meet these CF patients. You’ll never hear one word of complaint from them. If you’re functioning on 25% lung capacity you would probably be complaining, but you don’t get that from any of them, and that’s a source of inspiration on its own for when you’re going through your own hard time.

“I only played a couple of years of AAA before I got drafted [to the OHL]. I’m small for a goalie. I’ll always face a lot of adversity in my hockey career, and when you are constantly trying to find that inspiration, you will try to find it anywhere you can get it.

“I’ll be the first to admit that [making the NHL] is so unlikely, and that 99% of people will tell me, or at least think, ‘no, it’s not possible’, but the way I look at it is that if you are not trying to reach the NHL, then you will never reach your full potential as a hockey player. I believe that one day I still can. It will take a lot of work, a lot of effort, and the breaks have to go your way.”

‘Balance’ was one of the themes in speaking with D’Agostini, including the importance of philanthropy, but within ones own means.

“There are times when I forget to worry about myself. If anything this is helping my career in hockey. It’s not that I didn’t practise hard today because I am making a difference in someone’s life, but there are times where you do forget to put yourself first away from the rink.

“When I come to the rink I always work hard. I just go after it for as long as I am at the rink until it’s time to leave. But there are times when I put how I feel about others before my own, and it does affect me. That's not to scare anyone from helping other people. Just if there was anything I needed to work on, it would be that.”

A passage in a recent article in The Athletic about the Brampton Beast on D’Agostini failing to make ends meet and living in his car was possibly a case of a simple misunderstanding. “It was a great article. I enjoyed reading it. I am not actually living in my car, which the guys are bugging me about. I actually probably could live out of my car — I drive a Jeep Wrangler — but the point was that under the circumstances at the beginning of the season here, the biggest pain in the butt was just having my travel bag with me anywhere I would go, so it wasn’t easy for me to get settled in my home in Scarborough or at my girlfriend’s place in Guelph where I stay sometimes during the week. Sometimes I come to the rink undecided where I’m going to spend the night. It could stress you out sometimes, but there is worse that could be going on.”

Expanding beyond his immediate perimeter would certainly be a desired achievement for D’Agostini in his philanthropic endeavours, such as seeing other hockey teams or organizations join in the cause, but as with any ambition, there are limitations on how much a person can do.

“It’s a great idea, but it’s me being limited by time, and other things I’m going after. The time commitment excuse may be a bit hypocritical, because I’m the first person to tell people to get involved with something. I hope that one day we can get there (having more teams involved), or even get to the point where we don’t need to do that because we found a cure.”

But in the meantime, should there be any teams out there that would like to get involved, D’Agostini has a simple request. “Please reach out to me. Find me on social media and send me a message. If it’s too much of a commitment at this point, donate or share the story. There’s a link to donate on the Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis page.

“That’s the message I really want to send to other people: do good to other people.”