By Ben Fleck -
FARMINGTON HILLS – Hockey players and parents have flocked to the Farmington Hills Ice over the last week to shop at the Perani’s Hockey World annual clearance sale. Yet when they walk in, they’re not only greeted by massive amounts of hockey equipment, but hockey people trying to make a difference, as well.
Started in the early 2003 to help a hockey dad that needed a heart transplant, Hockey has Heart is an official non-profit organization based right out of Farmington Hills. And they set up a booth right outside the sale to help raise awareness of their mission – hockey people helping other hockey people.
The group of volunteers helps raise money for hockey families around the state of Michigan. Chairman and interim president of the group, Lucy Oakleaf, says the group has raised over $500,000 dollars to date, and has distributed it to people around the state
“A lot of our distribution is due to major medical challenges where families could be facing terrible illness,” said Oakleaf. “We help these families cover the medical expenses.”
Funding for Hockey has Heart has come from many different people, but from the earliest days of funding, the late Bob Perani – founder of Perani’s Hockey World – was one of the main contributors to the organization, and the company continues to support Hockey Has Heart today.
“That is why we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to come to Perani’s sale,” said Oakleaf. “We would have the opportunity to talk to a lot of people and spread the word.”
In the past, this organization – which consists of about 12 volunteers – has helped pay for funerals for young hockey players that were killed in automobile accidents.
Because Hockey has Heart is strictly voluntary, the organization is constantly looking for new parent volunteers to join the team and help down the road.
“It is very hard to keep up the level of work we used to do because a lot of our children are no longer in ice arenas,” said Oakleaf. “We are trying to get younger families interested and teach them the foundation of what the organization does.”
For more information on how to help, visit hockeyhasheart.com.