Decatur Youth Hockey Association nets money for troops overseas
DECATUR, Feb 10, 2013 (Herald & Review - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Decatur Youth Hockey Association players and their families honored military veterans with a special event Saturday. Organizer Dawn Kramer, who serves on the association's board, said the local hockey organization wanted to do something to honor the troops.
She pointed out a patch on her jersey with a bald eagle grasping two hockey sticks in its talons. The association sold the patches at its games Saturday.
The patches read, "U.S. hockey players support our troops," and were designed by an organization -- New York Hockey Players Support Our Troops. That charity was created by a Brooklyn-based hockey parent and coach, Charlie Gili, in honor of his dad, a World War II veteran, Kramer said. Money raised will go to help military personnel and their families in states where the fundraisers are held, according to the group's website.
Kramer said Gili has made donations in memory of fallen service members from Troy and Peoria.
"Completely, all the proceeds from what he does go back into helping military families," she said.
The association bought about 150 patches, which will result in $750 going to support the cause. In addition to the patches, the association sold jerseys and cups, with plans to donate the proceeds to military charities. They also had special pucks made to distribute to veterans who attended Saturday's hockey games.
The group also hosted a drive for care package items for those serving overseas. A hockey player who goes to Okaw Valley Middle School brought in several bags of donations collected by the school community. The association plans to send these items through local organizations that ship care packages, Kramer said.
In the Decatur Civic Center entryway, the group put up display boards created by players and their families. The boards featured photos of their loved ones serving in the military.
Kramer said her son, Colton Kramer, who is on the association's high school varsity team, wants to become a Marine.
"He's been on that path since he was young -- like maybe 12, 13, 14," she said. "And I wonder sometimes if that's how military people are -- if they just know, if they just have it in them from an early age that that's what they're going to do."
Kramer said hearing her only son talk about his dream makes her feel proud and scared at the same time. Her father, Ronald Butler, served in the Marine Corps, twin brother, Brian Butler, served in the National Guard and an uncle also served.
Jeanna-Marie Wilson and her mom, Barbara Wilson, represented Girl Scouts of Central Illinois Troop 3052, selling cookies at the event. The mother-daughter team said the organization has a program through which people buying cookies can elect to send some boxes to military personnel.
Wilson said she liked that Saturday's event was dedicated to those serving in the military.
"I don't think our troops get enough recognition or thanks for what they do for us," she said.
Kramer's daughter, Quinn, 13, sported her brother's Marine Corps hoodie on Saturday. Quinn plays on a girls' hockey team in Springfield. Next year, she hopes to play for Decatur's junior varsity team.
"My grampie used to be a Marine, so I thought it would be pretty cool to wear it and pretty relevant," Quinn said of the shirt.
Quinn said she plans to get a patch and put it on her Springfield Lady Kings jersey.
Kramer said she hopes the hockey players and fans who attended Saturday's games reflected on the freedoms they enjoy because of those who have served.
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