When we first saw young Liam Fitzgerald in his fist-bumping video where he gave knuckles to his favorite Boston Bruins players, we thought he was just adorable. As we dug into Liam’s story further however, we also found out he was a very brave and courageous young man. Liam, who was born with Down Syndrome in 2006, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) in 2009. His family supported him through aggressive treatment that lasted four years. Liam battled through endless ongoing treatments, infections, fevers, seizures and multiple trips to the emergency room while working hard to get better.
In May 2013, Liam took his final chemo treatment and proclaimed to the world he had “kicked cancer’s butt!” And after that, together with his family, they worked to create a fundraising campaign to help find a cure and ensure access to treatment for those suffering from the disease. The goal is to use the popular fist bump to “Bump Out Cancer.” You can donate to Liam’s cause through his page here: http://www.mwoy.org/pages/ma/ma15/lfitzgeral
We first engaged Liam with one of Upper Deck’s Random Acts of Kindness packages where we sent him a variety of hockey cards (mostly of his favorite team the Boston Bruins), signed pucks and more. He was thrilled when he received them!
At Upper Deck we wanted to do something even more special to honor Liam’s courage and we felt he was a perfect candidate for Upper Deck’s Heroic Inspirations campaign. In the past we have honored courageous youngsters involved in sports who battled through adversity like Jack Hoffman, Mandi Schwartz, Jaclyn Murphy, Jack Miller, Sam Tageson and Lauren Hill. Adding Liam to the mix just made perfect sense.
We worked in conjunction with Liam’s family and the Boston Bruins to surprise Liam on the same night Upper Deck would offer a team pack giveaway to fans in attendance. During the first time-out of the game, the team recognized Liam with the card.
There were some great images courtesy of Steve Babineau of Getty Images from the event as well. Afterwards we heard Liam couldn’t stop touching the big card. He couldn’t believe he had his very own trading card and he was thrilled to sign some copies for fans at the team store.
Responses to the card on social media have been nothing short of amazing.
davidamesse – I love this, and I’m a Hab’s fan
Billy Feliciano - Very classy Boston, very classy…. (And that’s coming from a due hard NYR fan).
Joel Rogers - That makes me a Hockey fan!
Jesse Kurtti - Great job Boston. This is why I love this game.
Susie Lilley - Goosebumps!!
Trice Powell – I think I’m getting soft in my old age because every time I see beautiful stuff like this I cry… That was super awesome
Chris Malboeuf - From a Red Wings fan, very classy Boston!
Donald Schneider – I want his card, what a dude!
Cesare Montefusco - Only in the NHL!!!!!!
Tian Carney - Crying
When is a trading card more than a trading card? When it has the power to change lives and inspire others. We believe Liam’s first Upper Deck rookie card is sure to be a collector’s item that every fan should want to add to their collection. His mother shared, “We believe Liam has a higher purpose in life, one in which during his journey he makes a difference in the world.” There are a limited amount of Liam’s Heroic Inspirations cards remaining and they will share details on how fans can score those soon!
Upper Deck had a lot of amazing items on display at the most recent Industry Summit, but the cards that got the greatest response were the 2014-15 NHL® Black Diamond Quad Rookie Gems cards. Collectors have the opportunity to score one of these cards by finding one of 25 exchange cards in packs of the 2014-15 NHL® Black Diamond.
There are a number of factors that make these cards so compelling:
- Each card is a one-of-one card. These are the only copies that exist.
- Every card is incredibly thick with a shadowbox type of display that includes four actual one carat diamonds.
- The cards will only be available through an interactive draft event which means anyone who pulls and redeems one of these cards has the same ability as any other customer to get the first pick in the draft and choose the player they want. Check out the event from last year:
- These cards are so unique and compelling, that they are in HIGH demand with collectors, usually going right into private collections. When they do make an appearance on auction sites, the prices for them are right in line with authentic high-end jewelry. Take a look at these links for two cards:
- What is most compelling is that less than 10 of the 25 cards have been redeemed so far which means there are still plenty more waiting to be discovered in packs of 2014-15 NHL® Black Diamond. Collectors have until April 9, 2015 to get their redemptions entered to participate in the interactive online draft event.
Take a look at the incredible cards available in this event.
Which player would you take first in the draft???
Check out these seven tips on how to best collect Upper Deck cards:
#1 – COLLECT WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY
The best part about collecting Upper Deck Hockey cards is that there are so many different ways to do it. Hockey fans collect sets, teams, players, rookies, autograph cards, memorabilia cards and so much more. Find what makes you happy and enjoy the hobby for the fun experience it provides getting you more involved in the game and the players you cheer for.
#2 – DON’T TRY TO COLLECT EVERYTHING
Upper Deck produces all sorts of hockey card sets every year for a variety of different collector’s tastes and budgets. It can be a little overwhelming so focus on the types of products you will enjoy the most. Fans getting started or returning to the hobby should look at these trading card products in particular:
O-Pee-Chee – The biggest hockey card set of the year, cool retro designs and a low price point per pack!
Upper Deck MVP – Provides excellent value with quality cards, great photography, rare parallel cards, autograph cards, memorabilia cards and more!
Upper Deck Series One & Two – These two products release at the start and middle of the season and have something for every type of collector. The “Young Guns” rookie cards are some of the most popular cards in the trading card industry.
Fleer Ultra – An extremely popular set every year with collectors who chase rookie cards, “Fresh Ink” autographs, “Platinum Medallion” parallel cards, die-cut cards, memorabilia cards and more!
Black Diamond – This technology based set features less cards per pack than the others, but all the cards have the look and feel of insert cards with shiny foil on the front of each card. This set usually has a deep selection of the latest rookie crop along with autograph versions of their cards. Collectors also have the opportunity to pull super-rare (and incredibly valuable) exchange cards good for “Quad Diamond Rookie Gems” cards that feature four diamonds embedded in the card (one carat each)!
Upper Deck ICE – This is another technolgy based set printed on acetate and plexi-glass stock. These are not your father’s hockey cards! The “Ice Premieres” rookie cards are some of the most valuable and sought after cards of the year.
#3 – COLLECT WITH OTHERS
One of the best parts of collecting hockey cards is the lifetime of memories you can make and relationships you can build by enjoying this hobby with others. Collect with your family and your friends while you watch the games together. It will bring you closer to the sport, closer to the athletes and closert to each other.
#4 – ENJOY PLENTY OF WAYS TO PURCHASE UPPER DECK HOCKEY CARDS FROM AUTHORIZED SOURCES
You can find Upper Deck cards (both new and old) from a variety of sources. Upper Deck works to protect our fans by creating a secure network of approved dealers to carry our trading card products and memorabilia. When purchasing new Upper Deck cards from hobby shops, make sure they are an Upper Deck Certified Diamond Dealer. Getting into an authorized shop for Upper Deck is the best way to learn about the hobby as not only do they have a variety of products available, but they have knowledgeable staff that can help you get started.
You can also get new Upper Deck cards from larger retail outlets like Target, Wal-Mart, Toys-R-Us and more. Those who enjoy the ease of shopping online can purchase through Upper Deck’s network of Authorized Internet Retailers or make purchases from Upper Deck’s online store (www.upperdeckstore.com). And if you want to split the costs on opening new products, check out Upper Deck’s network of Authorized Group Breakers who share purchases and open the product together in online chatrooms with streaming video. Purchases made from unauthorized channels do not fall under Upper Deck’s warranty policy.
#5 – KEEP YOUR UPPER DECK CARDS IN MINT CONDITION
Try to keep your Upper Deck hockey cards in mint condition by protecting them in card holders, binders or boxes. Avoid having them in extreme temperatures and make sure they are stored in a high location to avoid issues of floods or little hands who may not know how to handle them. The better the condition is on your Upper Deck cards, the more collectible and desirable they may be. There are third-party companies that will grade and encapsulate cards for collectors typically on a scale of 1-10, but as long as you keep them in good condition, your cards will likely be desirable for years to come.
#6 – DON’T GET CAUGHT UP IN THE VALUES
Constantly worrying about what your cards are worth or what you can sell them for takes a lot of the fun out of the hobby. Yes there are plenty of valuable cards that can be found in Upper Deck packs, but that shouldn’t be the main reason you collect. If you are looking to get an idea of what some of your best cards sell for, your best bet may be to check completed online auctions on eBay. At the very least it will give you a feel for what similar cards are selling for currently in the market. Understand however that values fluctuate on cards based on player and team performance in particular. What a card sells for today could be drastically different than what they could sell for in a week, month or year.
#7 – ENGAGE IN THE ONLINE WORLD OF COLLECTING AND TRADING
The trading card hobby is incredibly friendly and there are a variety of online groups that can help you on your journey to become an expert collector. Many you will find on your own, but make sure to connect with Upper Deck’s online resources for fans:
- Follow Upper Deck on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest
- Check out the Upper Deck Blog (upperdeckblog.com) to get more tips on collecting and find out about new products
- Get checklists and more on Upper Deck’s website (upperdeck.com)
And for more tips on collecting, make sure to visit our Collectors Zone!
For shop owners who attended the annual Las Vegas Industry Summit, it was clear that Upper Deck was there to help them grow their business. Our corporate room was set up to show off all the different ways we could help retailers to better merchandise their shops, engage their customers and develop new collectors. Check out this behind the scenes look!
The Upper Deck Co-Op Corner was there to showcase all the things that owners could be doing in their shop, primarily by working through their Authorized Distributor, to better their store. We are excited for the opportunity to work with shops to bring a variety of tools like we showcased here to their customers.
Our corporate area also offered attendees a nice place to relax and have some fun. Upper Deck hosted a viewing party on Selection Sunday and handed out packs of the company’s new March Madness Basketball product.
Upper Deck also conducted the company’s popular Expired Redemption Raffle at the show and fans who scored cards should be receiving them in the coming weeks!
The big moments came during Upper Deck’s Corporate Address where close to 200 Certified Diamond Dealers packed into the large conference room for staff to run through new products and programs for 2015 and beyond. There Mike Phillips (Vice President of Sales) and Jason Masherah (President of Upper Deck) were able to discuss UD’s long-term renewal with Michael Jordan. They shared that products like 2014-15 SP Authentic Basketball will be the last trading cards releases hoop fans will see with autograph content of MJ and LeBron for some time to give the market time to correct on the value of signed cards for two stars. Upper Deck is very serious about making sure autographs of these athletes are not oversaturated in the market.
And then UD shared a tribute to a former attendee when we presented the Steve James Award to Kenny Der from Imperial Garden Sports Collectibles for his great work in engaging new fans and growing the category for fans that visit his shop.
Then the fun came in as Upper Deck gave these shop owners a fun preview of 2014-15 NHL® Fleer Showcase where they could also score some great prizes for their shops like these Upper Deck Authenticated Wayne Gretzky signed blow-ups!
The best giveaway from a shop owner’s perspective are the annual Upper Deck Industry Summit black boxes which yield 1-2 limited-edition autograph cards produced for this show! Most shops bring these back to use as prizes in their shops, but collectors can sometimes find these cards available on online auctions sites as some owners will use them to help offset the expense of attending the show!
Another memorable moment was the NHL®, NHLPA and Upper Deck co-sponsored lunch. Shops got to learn about the great rookies this season like Johhny Gaudreau, Jonathan Drouin, Aaron Ekblad and more while also hearing about the exciting opportunities that exist next year for the highly touted prospect, Connor McDavid.
The company closed out the show appearing on a panel with other manufacturers where key issues were identified so companies could work to improve them. In particular, kids-focused marketing initiatives were something retailers wanted to see more done around and Upper Deck plans to continue our industry-leading programs on that like continuing National Hockey Card Day, sampling at key events, distributing Upper Deck Educates teacher kits, supporting charities like Cards2Kids and continuing the popular Heroic Inspirations campaign which helps support kid-focused charities.
And since this event is all about making the hobby better, we want to hear from you. Give us your one great idea to improve trading cards for future generations that we can put into place in the comment section below. We will hook one of you up with an Upper Deck Random Acts of Kindness that includes one of these limited Upper Deck Industry Summit black boxes for FREE!