Jan 28, 2013 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The ending couldn’t have played out any more perfectly than it did Saturday night, Jan. 19, when Morrisville State College men’s ice hockey took SUNY Potsdam into overtime and posted a dramatic 5-4 State University of New York Athletic Conference victory.
But what meant more than just the win on the ice was the game that was being played to raise awareness for autism, and ultimately gathered nearly $4,000 through ticket sales, raffles and other events.
“Every year the team helps out in the community and picks a charity and cause to support. This year I chose to talk to the guys and see what they thought about autism,” said Morrisville Mustangs Captain Jamie Nelson, who organized the autism awareness event. “When I asked the guys about it they all thought it would be a good idea.”
Autism, in fact, is near to the heart of the hockey program, as Nelson’s first cousin was diagnosed with autism at a young age; Mustangs Assistant Coach Ted Fauff has two nephews who are autistic and some of the team members’ parents work with special needs children, especially those with autism, Nelson said.
The Jan. 19 event ultimately raised $3,900 for Autism Speaks and The Kelberman Center Inc., through donations received at the gate, raffles, a silent auction of two hockey sticks and one jersey signed by NHL players and an online commemorative jersey auction that donned the jigsaw puzzle pieces identifiable to autism awareness.
Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. The Kelberman Center, based in Utica, is a regional center for excellence for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
“The coaches and I designed the [commemorative] jersey, all the guys helped put out some flyers for the game and a couple of the guys got the prizes for the silent auction, so everyone helped out. It was good,” said Nelson, a Morrisville State junior majoring in business administration.
What was also a fitting and satisfying touch to the event was that Nelson’s cousin, Jordan Sykes, who is autistic, joined the captain for the ceremonial puck drop at the beginning of the game.
On top of all that, what perhaps could not have been written any better was that Nelson ended up landing the game-winning goal with 1.2 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Mustangs the victory in front of those that had come to the IcePlex to support the charitable efforts of the hockey program.
“It was a good way to end the night, but as long as someone got that goal that was all that mattered,” Nelson said.
The next week, the State University of New York Athletic Conference named Nelson the men’s ice hockey player of the week for the week ending Jan. 20. Nelson posted one goal and two assists in the overtime victory over Potsdam, and in 19 games this season he has tallied five goals and 13 assists, registering 18 points.
“It’s nice to be recognized, but it was more a stepping stone for our team than anything,” Nelson said of the Jan. 19 victory. As for the successful autism awareness event, “It was a good event and I’m just glad it went smoothly,” he said.
Each year, the Morrisville State hockey program reaches out to the community to raise funding and awareness for a not-for-profit organization that in some way has touched their lives for the greater good.
In recent years, their efforts have led to more than $12,000 that has been donated to Saves For a Cure, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and now Autism Speaks and The Kelberman Center Inc.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.