Emory Report
June 6, 2005
Volume 57, Number 32


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June 6, 2005
New Emory neurotrauma fund honors late Thrashers player

by Janet Christenbury and eric rangus

In a celebration of Atlanta Thrashers hockey player Dan Snyder’s life, the Snyder family, the family of teammate Dany Heatley, and the team remembered the young player at the dedication of the Dan Snyder Neurotrauma Fund at Emory Hospital, Friday, May 20.

Neurosurgical care at Grady Hospital, metro Atlanta’s only Level 1 Trauma Center, is provided by Emory neurosurgeons, and that hospital is where Snyder was treated following a Sept. 29, 2003, automobile accident. Snyder died six days later after surgery.

The neurotrauma fund was created in late 2004 and will be used for research, training and teaching Emory neurosurgery residents who rotate through Grady yearly, caring for patients with head trauma.

“In order to maintain Grady’s trauma service, neurosurgeons must be on-board to care for patients with brain and spinal cord injuries,” said Daniel Barrow, professor and chair of neurosurgery. “This fund will help with clinical aspects of care, teaching the next generation of doctors and advancing our specialty through research. Philanthropy is extremely important to academic medical centers to support the many specialties required to provide the most advanced treatment to critically ill and injured patients.”

The fund is made up of memorial gifts from the public following Snyder’s death, personal contributions from both the Snyder and Heatley families, and an annual team pledge of $15,000 from the Atlanta Thrashers Foundation. The Thrashers’ yearly pledge will be given on behalf of the player who receives the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy, a player who best embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work. Thus far, the fund holds $150,000 in gifts and pledges. The goal is to continue growing the fund with outside support.

“Dan was an important part of the Thrashers family and a perfect example of what a hockey player should personify, both on and off the ice,” said Thrashers Executive Vice President and General Manager Don Waddell. “People were drawn to his passion for life and hockey, and through this fund, we will continue to honor him and the contributions he made to our community.”

Sanjay Gupta, assistant professor of neurosurgery, and his team were on-call at Grady the night of Snyder’s car accident. “The Snyders are really incredibly strong and gracious people,” Gupta said. “They managed to help create something good out of a tragic situation. This fund will focus on teaching future doctors how to better care for patients like Dan, while advancing the understanding of head injuries in the field of neurosurgery. In many ways, the Snyders are role models, just like their son. And they will never be forgotten by those of us who took care of them at Grady.”

Snyder was born and raised in Elmira, Ontario, and started playing hockey when he was a child. The Thrashers signed the undrafted free-agent center in 1999. Snyder made his NHL debut with Atlanta a year later, playing two games in the 2000–01 season. Off the ice, he received several community awards from his junior and minor-league teams.

In 49 games with the Thrashers over parts of three seasons, Snyder scored five goals and added 11 assists. After his death at the age of 25 on Oct. 5, 2003, the Thrashers played with a commemorative “37” patch—Snyder’s number with the team—on their jerseys during the 2003–04 season. Snyder’s junior team in Owen Sound, Ontario, a team he captained, retired his number.

“Dan’s fierce determination, leadership skills and love of the game allowed him to rise through the hockey ranks and achieve his lifelong dream of playing in the NHL with the Atlanta Thrashers,” said Graham Snyder, Dan’s father. “Dan gave freely of his time and energy, supporting many charitable groups in each of the communities he lived.”

“The Dan Snyder Neurotrauma Fund allows for a tragic situation to provide hope to others in the future, while advancing our academic and educational missions,” Barrow said. “It also allows the memory of Dan Snyder to live on in perpetuity by benefiting others.”

Contributions can be sent directly to: The Dan Snyder Neurotrauma Fund, Emory University, 1440 Clifton Road, Suite 112, Atlanta, Ga., 30322.