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Winter Hawks’ Coburn Named WHL “Humanitarian of the Year”; Hawks Win WHL Overall Team Scholastic Awa

April 29, 2004 - Western Hockey League (WHL) - Portland Winterhawks News Release

The Portland Winter Hawks were recognized today for off-ice excellence by the Western Hockey League.

Winter Hawks’ defenseman Braydon Coburn was named WHL Humanitarian of the Year and the entire Winter Hawks team was named “Scholastic Team of the Year” for the fourth time in the last five years. All Winter Hawks players take a minimum of four classes, and additional correspondence classes, at Portland State University and Milwaukie and Sunset High Schools. Director of Player Services, Hazel Hansen, said the team excelled at a very high level in the classroom with consistent GPA’s of 3.0 or better, even though players are involved in practice and off-ice training for 3-4 hours every day, traveled more than 50,000 miles by bus, and played 72 regular season games and five playoff games.

Coburn, a first round NHL draft pick, 8th overall, of the Atlanta Thrashers, was recognized by the league for taking the initiative, on his own, to meet with the Board of Directors at the Shriner’s Hospital for Crippled Children in Portland to set up a personal mentor program with Ben and Chad Berej, two 14-year-old twins that have cerebral palsy. Braydon took the two boys skating several times and purchased tickets to Winter Hawks’ games for them and their families. He has an ongoing mentor relationship with them, including regular visits at the hospital and e-mails.

Braydon also organized group skating sessions on the Memorial Coliseum ice sheet for “at risk” kids at Portland’s Milwaukie and Cleveland High Schools. Many of these kids, who have all had tough lives, had never skated before. Braydon patiently worked with all of them and, once they got used to moving around the ice a little, he set up fun games that they could play as part of their time on the ice. He was also instrumental in the annual Fred Meyer $10,000 Dash for Cash promotion that resulted over $6,000 being donated to assist 11-year-old Tanner Heckel from Estacada to get his “wish” from the Make-A-Wish Foundation of a family trip to Disney World in Florida. Braydon presented Tanner, diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, with an autographed team stick at center ice as part of the event on February 28.

Coburn also represented the Winter Hawks and the WHL at numerous school presentations where the key theme is to excel in school, get involved in extra-curricular school programs outside the classroom, and stay off drugs. Coburn took an active role in visiting local children’s hospitals and providing souvenirs to disadvantaged and disabled children, including more than 4,000 teddy bears thrown on the ice during the Hawks’ “Teddy Bear Toss” in November. Coburn, as captain of the Winter Hawks, organized a full day of personal deliveries of the stuffed animals to disadvantaged kids at Shriner’s Hospital for Crippled Children, Emmanuel Children’s Hospital, and Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

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