KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The Kalamazoo Wings hockey team were almost 150 miles away in Toledo, OH when the shootings ruptured the city. When they returned the city was devastated, just as they were. However, they knew exactly how to ease the pain.
The Wings are hosting a “We Are Kalamazoo” night on Saturday March 5 at the Wings Event Center and they’ve pledged $2 of every ticket sold to benefit the families of the victims.
“We’re trying to put this money to a cause to help people who are so shattered because of one person’s events,” said Joe Roberts, team broadcaster and director of public relations. “We just want to do everything we can to help.”
The money raised will go to the Help Now! Fund. It's a joint fund between the United Way and the Kalamazoo and Battle Creek Community Foundations. During the game a silent auction will be going on as well and 100 percent of the proceeds will go directly to the fund. Roberts said teams throughout the various professional hockey leagues have donated some “really cool stuff” including a couple of signed jerseys, one from Vancouver Canucks G Ryan Miller and another autographed by the entire Tampa Bay Lightning team.
“You couldn’t be prouder to be part of a hockey community no matter where it is,” said Roberts. “We have stuff coming from the Hockey Hall of Fame in Ontario. It's a small community, lets face it. But you know what? It’s such a tight-knit one and everyone is just willing to stand up together."
Roberts said other sports franchises pitched in too when they found out about the auction. Both the San Francisco Giants and the Houston Astros sent care packages. So far, they’ve collected over sixty items to be auctioned with a combined value of $10,000.
“The Greg Jennings Foundation sent a signed football,” said Roberts. “It’s not just hockey. It's just anyone who feels compelled to help and it's been so overwhelming with the amount people who have felt compelled.”
Roberts said before the Wings take on the Utah Grizzlies at 7pm, the victims will be honored during a pregame ceremony. He added that the Wings are “floored by the support” from everyone. They hope the event will help residents heal and bolster the city back to life.
“What we’re trying to do here is we’re trying to make an environment that makes people feel safe to feel normal,” said Roberts. “You know its okay to feel normal and its okay to come to a hockey game.”