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Fire On Ice helps hockey players give back
Erick Cronier clearly has captured the spirit of the season.
And Richmond, as a whole, is better for it.
Through his love of sports, particularly in the hockey community, Cronier has forged many friendships and earned considerable respect. And being able to count on their support has enabled the likeable strength and conditioning coach of the Richmond Sockeyes to pursue another goal: to give back.
Since creating the For Others Society last year, Cronier and his friends have held two hockey fundraisers. Last May, buoyed by local Western Hockey Leaguers Carter Popoff and Brayden Low and B.C. Hockey League player Turner Popoff, a team representing the Richmond Firefighters donated half of the $4,500 raised during the game to Project Emily to assist in building a new accessible home for the de Boer family.
Then last Saturday, in a game again featuring the Firefighters and the Richmond Sockeyes Alumni, close to $10,000 was raised at Fire On Ice at the Richmond Ice Centre. The funds were divided between Feed-U-Cate, a district-wide initiative to expand breakfast programs in Richmond schools, and the Sockeyes’ scholarship fund.
“It was a lot of work, but it certainly wasn’t just myself,” said Cronier, who despite dedicating several hundred hours overseeing the organizing of the event is quick to deflect praise elsewhere.
“I believe the greatest thing a person can do is put others before oneself. The happiness I can bring to others just for one night is worth all the stress and sleepless nights it took to put this together,” he said. “I always remember a quote I heard from Bob Marley that I appreciate: “Live for yourself and you will live in vain, live for others and you will live again.”
Without the help of others, none of this would be possible, said Cronier.
There’s Greg Umbach, who greeted all the attendees at the door, oversaw all the accounting of funds for the event, and beyond that covered the costs for the ice, insurance and a Canucks’ tickets raffle draw.
Heather Yu spent 15 hours Friday, a day before the game and after-party, wrapping all the auction items. Then spent an additional six hours setting it up, oversaw the silent auction and mystery present auction for kids and organized the children’s visit with Santa Claus. She also lobbied for many of the silent auction donations and spent her own money for event supplies.
Blake Powell was in charge of the mini-games and helped Yu to organize the silent auction. Tina O’Connor arranged for the referees, got many of the mystery presents and spent the evening collecting for the 50/50 draws. Luis Valdizon volunteered his time to document the event.
And while Todd Stockdale was busy rallying his fellow firefighters to the cause, even getting Alex Salameh, a Richmond firefighter, to portray Santa Claus for the first time—in the eyes of the children, at least, the star of the show—Doug Paterson and Brad Swanson were busy doing the same with the Sockeye Alumni. Both teams also contributed financially to the game, with Sockeyes’ general manger Richard Petrowsky and captain Adam Nishi encouraging all the current junior hockey team members to purchase tickets and participate in the event.
“This is the first time they have supported their own cause, which demonstrates great character,” said Cronier.
Feed-U-Cate creator and organizer Glenn Kishi was awed by the strong show of public support for Fire On Ice.
“I certainly didn’t’ expect that much ($3,895) and really appreciate the people in the community coming out (to Fire On Ice) and supporting our cause,” said Kishi. “it’s been phenomenal. We still have work to do in getting the public to become more aware of the issue, and their option to support it, but it’s gratifying when the likes of both the Sockeye alumni and the firefighters are willing to help their community the way they have. It’s awesome of those guys.”
•More photos, Page 23.