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Community Through Hockey To Host Annual Fundraiser

Community Through Hockey is preparing for its seventh annual community hockey game fundraiser, which will be held at the Northwest Arena on Saturday. This year, Community Through Hockey is raising money for Kids and Sibs summer camp at Camp Onyahsa. Submitted photos

Community Through Hockey is hosting its seventh annual community hockey game at Northwest Arena Oct. 1 at 7 p.m.

Community Through Hockey is a charity organization comprised of police officers, corrections officers and firefighters that play ice hockey.

Eric Herman, founder and president of Community Through Hockey, said over 30 members will be taking part on the ice in this year’s hockey game.

Proceeds will support the Kids and Sibs summer camp, which is hosted at Camp Onyahsa in Dewittville.

Kids and Sibs is an inclusive summer day camp for children with disabilities and their siblings, offering an experience Herman said is not usually available for children with disabilities. The goal of the camp is to help the children realize they are not alone.

Admission to the community hockey game is free to the public. A basket raffle, a large item raffle and a 50-50 drawing will be featured at the game.

Since 2015, Community Through Hockey has helped raise a total of $52,700 for local families and organizations.

“We’re just glad to be a part of everything, and we’re just using the game of hockey and our position as police officers, firefighters and corrections officers, just trying to be good public servants and trying to do better for our community,” Herman said.

The group is encouraging community members to attend and support this year’s fundraiser for Kids and Sibs. Additional information is available on Community Through Hockey’s Facebook page.

Unlike traditional summer camp experiences that require limited supervision, Herman said Kids and Sibs requires a significant amount of planning, help, and supervision.

“With kids with disabilities, whether that be mental or physical, any other disability, it takes a lot more commitment from the community to properly ensure that these kids have a good time,” he said.

Herman said many camps often do not offer easy access to children with disabilities; however, he said Camp Onyahsa has made a concentrated effort on improving their accessibility for everyone in the community.

Kids and Sibs is offered to families free of charge.

“The families are not on the hook for any part of this bill,” Herman said. “The cost of the camp, running the camp, food, nursing staff, any staff members that are paid, this provides a free camp.”

Herman said the camp’s goal is to eventually provide free transportation for attendees and to offer a five-day camp experience. By raising financial support from the community, the camp strives to make an impact on the lives of the children who attend the camp by designing every activity to meet the various needs of the children.

While Herman said not everyone understands the challenges children with disabilities and their siblings face, he is able to relate because of his personal experience as a sibling of a child with disabilities.

“My oldest sister was in a wheelchair for her entire life,” he said. “She was older than me, so that’s all I knew of her, being in a wheelchair. Not everyone understands what it’s like to have a family member that has a disability. Not everyone understands the challenges that they may have. This allows those kids with disabilities to understand and realize that they’re not alone. There are other people out there that understand what it’s like to have a sibling in that position.”

Herman said Kids and Sibs offers extra assistance and care for those with disabilities in an effort to improve the lives of each of the campers.

This past year, Herman personally attended the camp. He described his visit at the camp as an “enlightening” experience, where he was able to witness the impact of the camp on each of the children and the large attendance at the camp.

“I hope to be able to attend for years to come,” he said, “just to go and talk to the kids and just understand where they’re coming from.”

Just like the camp, his goal is to remind the children with disabilities and their families that they are not alone and that there is assistance available for them.

Due to his firsthand experience, Herman said it was an easy decision for Community Through Hockey to support Kids and Sibs through this year’s annual community hockey game.

Herman explained the community hockey game fundraiser is a satisfying experience for each of the police officers, corrections officers and firefighters involved in the event after months of planning.

“It all adds up and means a lot to us so we can make a difference,” he said.

The community turnout for the community hockey game is always strong and is expected to have an attendance of anywhere from 200-300 or more people at this year’s game.

Over the years, the community hockey game has gained support in the community, allowing Community Through Hockey to continue raising funds for local organizations and providing a family-friendly event for people to enjoy.

“It’s turned into a pretty fun event for the weekend, and I’ve just been glad to be a part of it,” Herman said. “I get a lot of help from everybody that plays, and we have a good time. It should be a good family fun event. It gets the community together and we try to do good for the area.”

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