Kings plan trib­ute, in re­sponse to Hum­boldt Bron­cos tragedy

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - ALI WIL­SON

REC­OG­NIZ­ING MANY PAR­AL­LELS TO the ru­ral Saskatchewan com­mu­nity, the Elmira Sugar Kings are among lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions re­act­ing to the tragedy that be­fell the Hum­boldt Bron­cos ju­nior hockey team.

On April 6 a trac­tor-trailer col­lided with the team bus car­ry­ing 29 peo­ple on route to a play­off game. Both ve­hi­cles were oblit­er­ated on im­pact, killing 15 peo­ple, in­clud­ing two coaches, a ra­dio re­porter, the team statis­ti­cian, the bus driver and ten young play­ers.

Re­ac­tion to the hor­rific event was in­stan­ta­neous and in­ter­na­tional. It was par­tic­u­larly poignant in places like Wool­wich where the ju­nior hockey team is the root of the com­mu­nity be­cause it could have hap­pened any­where and to any­one. For many, the story hits too close to home.

“When I think of Hum­boldt, I see Elmira. A small, tight-knit com­mu­nity who ral­lies be­hind their ju­nior hockey team,” said Dave O’Donoghue pres­i­dent of the Elmira Sugar Kings. “I see young men who come to town from all around to play ju­nior hockey, bil­let­ing with lo­cal fam­i­lies, who in­stantly be­come part of the com­mu­nity. Elmira be­comes their home, not just where they play hockey, and they be­come part of Elmira.”

Hum­boldt, Saskatchewan has a pop­u­la­tion of nearly 6,000 peo­ple, with one high school. They ad­ver­tise church con­certs and hold a street fes­ti­val in the sum­mer – a hockey com­mu­nity, they rally around their team much like the com­mu­nity here at home. For hockey play­ers, the bus trips are a cher­ished tra­di­tion in the ju­nior world, a time to bond, a time away from the pub­lic eye, a time to come to­gether as a team.

“When think­ing of this hor­rific tragedy in those terms, I am truly at a loss for words. Think­ing of the grief the whole town of Hum­boldt shares – the un­think­able dev­as­ta­tion the sur­vivors, the first re­spon­ders and all the fam­i­lies have seen– it’s im­pos­si­ble not to get

choked up. To think this could be any ju­nior team bus across Canada, in­clud­ing our own, well I can’t even let my mind go there,” said O’Donoghue.

“The bus is like a sanc­tu­ary to a hockey player, a place to so­cial­ize on the way to the game, and wind down on the way home, a place where the bonds of life­long friend­ships are strength­ened and where ev­ery­one can just re­lax and en­joy be­ing to­gether with noth­ing else to do but hang out. It is un­fath­omable to think some­thing so tragic can hap­pen when you’re some­where so happy and free.”

Tonight (Thurs­day) the Caledonia Cor­vairs will be travelling to the WMC to face off against the Kings in what will be their first home game in the Suther­land Cup semi-fi­nals. They will have a pregame trib­ute and mo­ment of si­lence, and, in con­junc­tion with the Jer­sey Day at schools across Canada be­ing held to show sup­port for the Hum­boldt Bron­cos, there will be free ad­mis­sion to all chil­dren wear­ing jer­seys to the game.

The Booster Club will also be do­nat­ing the pro­ceeds from the 50/50 draw and the team will be match­ing this do­na­tion (up to $1,500) to the Go­FundMe cam­paign to help the Hum­boldt Bron­cos fam­i­lies.

“On be­half of the or­ga­ni­za­tion, we ex­tend our deep­est sym­pa­thies to the en­tire Hum­boldt Bron­cos fam­ily and com­mu­nity and we will con­tinue to send our thoughts, sup­port and strength to them through­out the long road ahead,” he said.

A Go­FundMe cam­paign was started to sup­port those af­fected by the fa­tal crash last week. As of Wed­nes­day morn­ing, more than 100,000 peo­ple had boosted the to­tal past $8 mil­lion.

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