First Responders To Play Hockey For Boy Fighting Cancer

The Line of Courage Spartans in whote jerseys, at left, face off against the Lakeview Shock Bulldogs in last year’s third annual Community Hockey Game, which raised money for charity. Submitted photo

The field of law enforcement and fire departments may already provide those who serve the greater community, but that isn’t stopping Chautauqua County police officers, correctional officers and firefighters from helping out even more.

A group of Chautauqua County first responders will play hockey in order to raise money for Kody Howard, a 9-year-old who is battling a rare form of stomach cancer since February.

The event, which will be hosted Friday at 7 p.m., will be the fourth annual Community Hockey Game at the Northwest Arena. Community Through Hockey consists of a group of police officers and firefighters on the Line of Courage Spartans team vs. a team of officers from Lakeview Shock Incarceration Correctional Facility called the Lakeview Shock Bulldogs.

Beginning as a group of community servants who like to play hockey, the idea to raise money for different causes came about in 2015 when the first game raised money for Kallie’s Krusade. Jamestown firefighter Eric Herman, Community Through Hockey founder and president, described their first charitable act as a “spur of the moment” decision. After continuing to raise funds for years, he is now applying for the group to become a recognized nonprofit.

“It’s about both teams coming together, having fun and raising money for a good cause,” Herman said.

This year’s focus is Howard, a fourth-grade student from Panama, also known as “Howard Strong” on Facebook. He was first admitted to Oishei Children’s Hospital with critical anemia, which required him to have three blood transfusions. A tumor in his stomach was later discovered to be the cause, and his cancer treatment began soon after diagnosis.

Admission to the hockey game is free. Fundraising will be drawn from several basket raffles, a 50-50 raffle and large item raffles.

Tickets for the 50-50 raffle will be sold until the end of the second period. Local businesses have helped provide the raffle items, including a four-pack of Buffalo Sabres tickets and gift cards for the Chef’s Restaurant, a $350 Yeti cooler, custom-made cornhole boards, an all-day boat rental from Smith Boys marina and a night and day package to enjoy Cleveland with tickets to both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a Cleveland Indians baseball game.

“This is the first year we’ve had something big,” Herman said. “It truly is a community event, and there is something for everyone.”

Since 2015, Community Through Hockey has raised more than $12,500 for area families and organizations. Herman and his colleagues raised money for Team Brennen in 2016. That fundraiser allowed Brennen Maddox, a 10-year-old from Brocton, to travel to Walt Disney World with his family. Maddox has progeria, a disease that accelerates the aging process in children.

Centaur Stride, a horse-riding therapy facility that caters to children and adults with developmental disabilities, received donations in 2017 along with Grant’s Prayer Warriors, named after Grant Damon, the son of a Jamestown police officer, who had one functioning kidney and was in need of a transplant.

“Everyone’s doing as well as could be expected,” Herman said of the past fundraising recipients.

The goal for this year’s game is for it to be the best one yet in terms of attendance and fundraising. Howard will get to ride the ice resurfacer during an intermission. Two local hockey players will also be referees for Friday’s game. Herman said he never imagined his group of colleagues playing hockey would turn into something so successfully charitable.

“It’s awesome that everyone stepped up; I really am just blown away,” Herman said. “I want the community to know there are good people out there.”

Updates for the game will be shared on the Facebook pages for Community Through Hockey and Howard Strong.