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Hockey community comes together to support those affected by recent wildfires

By Heather Rule, SportsEngine, 01/31/22, 11:15AM MST

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Hub exclusive: The Colorado Avalanche, Toyota, Pure Hockey, CAHA and Dawg Nation all are helping ease the impact of the fires through various ways.

Jason Schofield lives in the community affected by the Boulder County wildfires. He knows people – family friends, kids he coaches in hockey – who lost their homes in the blaze.

“I said, ‘Hey, I don’t want anybody to miss a minute of hockey,’ ” said Schofield, director of amateur development for the Colorado Avalanche. “ 'Hockey is something that they need now more than ever.

“ ’How can we help?’ ”

Within 10 hours of the fires, Schofield had the owner of Pure Hockey on the phone to figure out a plan.

Multiple hockey organizations have stepped up to help victims of the wildfires, as well as the Toyota Hard Hat Heroes program, supported by local Toyota dealerships and the Avalanche. The program typically raises money to benefit youth hockey in Colorado, with Toyota donating $100 for every Avalanche goal scored.

The program pivoted to fire relief, using the money raised from last season, working with local hockey directors to send out an offer to families to register with the Avalanche in order to come into a Pure Hockey store and receive any hockey equipment that was lost or affected by the blaze.

“We’re trying to do something to make sure that they can stay in the game,” Schofield said. “And fortunately what it’s shown is that what the game of hockey does mean to these families is that their gratitude and their thanks have been showered on us.

“I can’t even imagine what the families are going through. This is going to be a life-changing experience.”

As of Jan. 5, Hard Hat Heroes helped 26 players receive equipment, from skates to pads to anything and everything they might need to be replaced. These players can continue hockey practices and games without delay. Of those affected by the fires, any hockey players of any age, plus hockey officials, are eligible to receive equipment. Here is the request form: https://avalanche.teamkse.com/hard-hat-heroes-boulder-county-fire/.

“Call it coincidence or fate, but we were ready with this support the second it was needed,” Schofield said. “And there has been no bigger need this year than the fire and what it’s cost for these families.”

The Colorado Amateur Hockey Association also has its own fundraiser accepting donations, with 100% of the money going toward local hockey community members affected by the fire, specifically the Boulder Hockey Club, Roughriders, Lafayette Locomotives and Hyland Hills Hockey Association. It’s still too early to know the numbers of how many players are affected and might need assistance, according to Randy Kanai, CAHA president.

“Our goal right now is to get hockey equipment in the hands of the players so they minimize the time they’re not on the ice,” Kanai said. “Getting back on the ice is hopefully providing them some semblance of a normalcy.”

Once CAHA officials have a better idea of specific needs beyond hockey and the number of people affected, they will allocate funds where it’s most impactful, providing the most benefit to affected families, according to Kanai. He added that money could go toward mental health aid or therapy, gaps in insurance coverage, or any unexpected costs.

A significant amount of money has already been raised (https://www.paypal.com/donate/?hosted_button_id=Z69WACZJD3WJY) from not only local hockey associations in Colorado, but Kanai has seen donations pour in from across the country with hockey clubs in Alaska, Wyoming, Massachusetts, Vermont, Florida and Rhode Island, to name a few. Even an email to hockey counterparts nationwide helped generate support for the fund. A $1,000 donation with a reply-all message spurred more $1,000-or-more donations from others as well.

“To me, it just proves yet again that the hockey community really is a tight-knit, small community, and they’re there to support everybody,” Kanai said. “They’re all looking to do whatever they can from wherever they’re located. It’s really been amazing.”

Anyone can also help with fire relief via the Colorado Avalanche 50/50 raffle. All proceeds from the raffle throughout the entire month of January will go toward any victims of the wildfires, hockey families and non-hockey families. Beneficiaries of the raffle are typically Colorado youth sports organizations, according to Kanai, who’s also the 50/50 raffle manager.

All raffle-ticket sales on online at https://5050colorado.sportngin.com/, with entrants having a chance to win half the jackpot while the other half of the money raised goes toward those affected by the wildfires.

In addition, Dawg Nation is a non-profit group that also didn’t waste any time setting up a fundraiser for hockey families needing help following the wildfires. Dawg Nation got the fundraiser going with an initial $10,000 donation. Money will go to help out the Boulder and Roughriders hockey clubs, teams that play at the Sport Stable — the rink in the heart of where the fires hit, though the arena appears to have come through unscathed, according to Marty Richardson, CEO and founder of Dawg Nation.

The fundraiser was already up to $60,000 by Jan. 5. Go to https://www.dawgnationhockey.org/marshall-fire/ for more information and to donate.

“It’s humbling to see the hockey community just step up over and over and over again,” Richardson said. “I’m not surprised to see them do that again.”

Dawg Nation has two subcommittees for both youth hockey and adult hockey in the area that will help determine the best use of the funds raised to make sure the money goes to the right places, according to Richardson.

“For us, you only live once, and you’ve got these opportunities to make the best of your life,” Richardson said. “We have this really unique opportunity to help families in need, and that’s what we do. It’s pretty special.”

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