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Political consultant Anthony Pedicini and former Rep. Larry Ahern. Photos by Kimberly DeFalco

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Joe Henderson: Anthony Pedicini’s only goal is win against cancer

Political consultant Anthony Pedicini is known in Hillsborough County political circles as someone who takes no prisoners in his drive to support the ambition of Republican candidates.

He plays to win and if you are in the way, well, that’s your problem.

Opponents with bloodied noses can tell you all about that.

But some things call for a suspension of preconceived images, and in at least one area Pedicini – catch your breath, this may be hard to believe if you know him only by his work – is an emotional, eye-dabbing, teddy bear.

The subject is cancer, specifically the kind of cancer that attacks children. On that issue, Pedicini welcomes everyone willing to support the eradication of that disease under the big tent of humanity.

When it comes to fighting cancer, especially in children, he is strictly NPA – no party affiliation.

That explains why he has stopped shaving while the Tampa Bay Lightning are in the National Hockey League playoffs. It follows a league-wide tradition the league calls “playoff beards” – it’s one of those hockey things.

Basically, participants in the playoffs stop shaving as long as they remain in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s a superstition about not changing anything as long as they remain in the playoffs, and now it’s a fairly widespread practice.

The Lightning Foundation capitalized on the craze as a fund-raiser, and that’s where Pedicini got on board. He is a serious hockey fan and joined the beard-a-thon as a way to raise money and awareness about the disease.

“I thought it would be fun,” he said.

There was serious side too.

His younger brother, Thomas, had battled Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Although he is cancer free, the aggressive treatment needed to cure the disease left Thomas in need of multiple surgeries.

He raised more than $20,000, leading NHL cities. He made good on a promise to dye his beard blue if donations reached that level.

TO DONATE TO THE FIGHT AGAINST PEDIATRIC CANCER, CLICK HERE.

With the Lightning in the second round of the playoffs now against Boston, the goal is higher.

So are the stakes.

He has a 4-year-old relative in New York who is battling a rare cancer called medulloblastoma.

“When my brother went through this, it was a shock. But to see a 4-year-old battling this is extremely hard,” he said, choking his words. “It’s your family. Family is most important.

“Doctors have told me there is very little research into treatments for pediatric cancers. We have to do something about that.”

This isn’t a red or blue issue.

Democrats who fight him hard on political issues have opened their wallets as well as Republicans to contribute to his fund, which has now passed $35,000. In turn, he set a goal and made a promise.

The Lightning’s playoff chase resumes tonight against Boston at Amalie Arena in Tampa. If they make it to the Cup final and at least 60 people donate $1,000 each, he will hold a raffle and send one of them on a road trip to watch the Lightning. He says that money will come from personal funds.

“I don’t care about the cost,” he said. “For some reason, I get along better with kids than I do with adults. I want to help them. We all want to help them.”

TO DONATE TO THE FIGHT AGAINST PEDIATRIC CANCER, CLICK HERE.

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I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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