Dillon Simpson named Cleveland Monsters 2022-23 IOA/American Specialty Man of the YearMay 2, 2023
The Cleveland Monsters are proud to announce that Dillon Simpson has been named the team’s winner of the IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Cleveland community during the 2022-23 season.
The veteran defenseman and Monsters captain’s work began before the season even started when he reached out to the Monsters front office with the idea to connect with the Special Olympics community in Northeast Ohio. Working closely with the front office to develop a program, Simmer’s Sidekicks was established as a way to host local athletes from Special Olympics Ohio and their families at every Saturday game.
Simpson hosted over a dozen Special Olympics athletes throughout the season, providing guests with tickets to the game, food and beverage, Monsters gear, and inclusion in the team’s Cave Crew, allowing guests to high-five Monsters players as they made their way onto the ice before the game. The athletes were also recognized during a special in-game moment on Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse’s Humongotron. Following the game, the athletes and their families had the chance to meet with Simpson to learn more about him while getting autographs.
In December, Simpson played a pivotal role in helping four-year-old Brooks Taseff transform into a very special ‘Batman’ after being introduced to the Monsters through A Special Wish and their NP4Kids When I Grow Up Program presented by Nurenburg Pairs Law Firm. In early 2022, Brooks was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia, the most common type of leukemia found in children, which accounts for about 30 percent of all pediatric cancers. Simpson joined Batman Brooks and his older brother Elliott to solve the mystery of a missing Monsters Batman jersey ahead of the team’s game that night. Leading Brooks and Elliott on a scavenger hunt, Simpson helped complete the transformation of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse into Gotham City and aided the brothers in solving the crime that Batman villain ‘Harley Quinn’ had committed.
Simpson additionally took part in Tour with the Monsters presented by University Hospitals Sports Medicine which saw Monsters players travel to local ice rinks for practice and autograph sessions during the season in an effort to grow the game of hockey in Northeast Ohio. Simpson also participated in the Monsters’ Hockey for Heroes program during which three veterans or active-duty military members attended each Friday home game and had the chance to meet with a player postgame.
Throughout his time in Cleveland, Simpson has immersed himself and his family in the Northeast Ohio community and used his platform to show compassion and support for those in need. Despite dealing with injuries throughout the season, Simpson was always present for the team and the community, participating in Simmer’s Sidekicks and numerous additional initiatives with no hesitation regarding his playing status on a given night.
Simpson is now one of 32 finalists for the AHL’s 2022-23 Yanick Dupré Memorial Award, honoring the overall IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year. The league award is named after the former Hershey Bears forward and AHL All-Star who died in 1997 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. The winner of the Yanick Dupré Memorial Award will be announced by the American Hockey League on Thursday, May 5.
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