United States Hockey League Team to Take Ice with Helmets Painted by Local Amatuer Artists to Raise Money for Young Cancer Patients
(GENEVA, IL) - On Friday, November 30th, the Chicago Steel Hockey Team will become the first known team at any level hockey to take the ice wearing 25 different helmets, each painted by local amateur artists in tribute to children and young adults fighting cancer. Though hockey goalies from the NHL to junior leagues have worn custom-painted helmets for years, no full team has yet worn "hats" (as players and fans refer to the protective gear) that are decorated in any fashion. Local artists, including area elementary schools, Cub Scouts and nonprofit organizations, were invited to paint the team helmets with the goal of showcasing the fighting spirit of children and young adults who are battling cancer. Each helmet will be auctioned after the game to raise money for the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope, a charity that provides art supplies to cancer patients. The event, title "Crazy Hat Night" is presented by School of Art in Geneva.
"I've been fortunate to have been a part of many innovative sports promotions, but I've never been a part of something like this that combines art and sport to raise money for charity in such a grassroots way," said Dan Lehv, President of the Chicago Steel Hockey Team. "We believe this to be a first in hockey history, but it's being able to contribute to a great cause that has excited our players and staff."
The Chicago Steel Hockey Team plays in the United State Hockey League (USHL), the top junior league in the country for 16-21 year old players, who will be the next generation of college and NHL stars. A core mission of the league is to develop players as leaders in their communities. The "Crazy Hat" partnership with so many community-based organizations has already attracted the attention of League officials who, along with the team's November 30th opponent, the Central Illinois Flying Aces, had to approve the team's request for each player to wear a different helmet during the game. "This is one of those concepts that you can immediately envision other teams replicating across the country," said Tom Garrity, USHL President & Commissioner. "It's a truly unique way to bring great visibility to an important cause within a community." The collection of participating artists includes nine elementary school classrooms, one Cub Scout Pack, and three arts organizations. Students at School of Art designed ten of the helmets, and connected the team to the Foundation.
"I am always challenging our players to get outside of their comfort zones," said Chicago Steel Head Coach Greg Moore. "We went to the School of Art together to take a class as a team-building exercise and I know the guys walked away with an experience that combines both creativity and critical thinking, and now they are going to be a part of something that uses so many different kinds of talent to provide hope for children fighting cancer."
Proceeds from the helmet auction as well as a portion of proceeds from ticket sales of the November 30th game will benefit the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope, a local non-profit organization based in Geneva, Illinois that provides art and music supplies to children and young adults, ages 10-21, who are undergoing cancer treatments.
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