Austin Schwaderer, 9, just returned from a family vacation to sunny Florida.
But the Darby Woods Elementary student will be hitting the ice Tuesday, Feb. 25, as a featured participant in the Black Tie Blue Jackets Style Show at Nationwide Arena.
The style show is the signature annual event for the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation, which raises public awareness and financial support in the areas of pediatric cancer, children's health and safety, education and the development of youth and amateur hockey.
Austin will be one of 10 central Ohio youth battling cancer who will be celebrated as heroes at Nationwide Arena's center ice, at the fashion show featuring Blue Jackets players and their wives or girlfriends. Last year's event raised more than $400,000.
"We're really excited about Austin's being part of such a worthy event," said his mother, Regina Schwaderer. "From what I've learned about it, the foundation is one of the most involved local groups with pediatric cancer."
The Schwaderer family lives in Galloway. Austin is often shy around strangers, but he has developed a special bond with one of the Blue Jackets players, his mother said.
"He did a photo shoot with Cam Atkinson for the foundation and they really hit it off," Schwaderer said. "We just went to one of the Blue Jackets games and Austin got the special privilege of riding on the Zamboni and he also got to spend some time hanging out with Cam in the locker room."
Already a big Blue Jackets fan, Austin now cheers extra hard for Cam, she said.
"He's getting pretty excited about getting to meet some of the other players," Schwaderer said.
It won't be Austin's first time stepping onto the ice at a hockey rink.
He participates in a program for youngsters with physical or developmental disabilities presented by the Columbus Chill Youth Hockey Association in partnership with the American Special Hockey Association and USA Hockey.
The program is for youngsters who can physically play hockey but would not be able to participate in a regular organized league, Schwaderer said.
"Austin gets out there and plays as often as he can," she said. "He's pretty comfortable on the ice. Me -- I'd be afraid of falling."
The youngsters and adults modeling at this year's style show will be wearing attire provided by various central Ohio boutiques and fashion stores. Along with Atkinson, 12 other Blue Jackets players are scheduled to participate.
The evening will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a reception and a model meet and greet followed by a sit-down dinner and the style show. A live auction also will be featured.
Tickets can be purchased at www.BlackTieBlueJackets.org or by calling 614-246-4168.