By Ben Fleck -
Hockey is a game we all love to watch and play, but in some cases we can use it for more than personal enjoyment.
On Dec. 15, three organizations from Kalamazoo will join forces and put on an event centered around hockey to benefit children that suffer from autism.
In collaboration with Residential Opportunities, Inc., the Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League and the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association will play hockey to raise autism awareness in the community, and raise money for a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility – The Great Lakes Center for Autism Treatment and Research – designed to help children with autism and their families.
Stephanie Dukesherer, director of business operations and co-registrar for KOHA, said there will be a total of 18 hockey games played during the event.
“There will be three high school games that day and in between those games all 12 of KOHA’s U8 teams – which is the largest youth hockey program in the state of Michigan – will participate in a jamboree,” said Dukesherer. “A jamboree is separate cross-ice games that will include four teams.”
The game of the night at Wings Stadium Complex will be between the Kalamazoo Eagles and Kalamazoo Blades. Dukesherer said that Blades head coach Erick Babcock and KOHA board member Rob Atkins were the ‘brainchildren’ of the event.
“They (Babcock and Atkins) got together and the idea ‘snowballed’ from there,” said Dukesherer. “They brought other people into the fold that could help organize the event.”
The organizations involved will be creating event t-shirts and autism awareness wristbands – much like Livestrong bands – to sell at the rink. Dukesherer said they are also attempting to get corporate sponsors to donate money.
“Our hope is to raise a significant amount of money that will help with the kinds of things the research and treatment facility still needs,” Dukesherer said.
For more information about the event, contact Stephanie Dukesherer at firstname.lastname@example.org.