ARRES alumni game brings in 10K for new twin arenas
The Airdrie Regional Recreation Enhancement Society (ARRES) raised more than $10,000 for phase three of Genesis Place at its inaugural Winter Challenge hockey game last weekend.
More than 200 fans filled the Ron Ebbesen Arena on March 24 for the event, which featured Calgary Flames alumni and local celebrities. The final score was 12-8 for Team Shane Homes over Team Boston Pizza, but all those involved said the primary goal of bringing knowledge for the need of new ice surfaces in the city was the most important element.
“It’s a nice thing to make some money out of the deal, but it was really to raise awareness of what we’re doing,” said ARRES Chairman Jack Lumley.
“We’ve brought the rinks forwards five years from the completion perspective – and the trade-off is the community needs to raise $4 million. It’s really been an awesome day. It’s not a good event if you don’t fill the stands, so that’s really when we knew this was a successful event.”
“I’m a parent of a kid in hockey, so I’m seeing the shortage of ice that we have here first hand,” said local MP Blake Richards. “I’ve heard it from a lot of people in the community over the years for sure too. When you get a chance to help support bringing more opportunities for kids in Airdrie, I’m going to be all over that.
A final fundraising amount wasn’t known by press time, but Rob Jamieson, one of the Winter Challenge’s organizers, said the $10,000 surpassed the committee’s goals.
“We weren’t sure how many people were going to show up, but it looked pretty packed,” he said. “It was amazing just being on the ice and having the community come out. I think when we sit down next, we’ll have a wind up and see what worked and what didn’t work.
“The idea was to call it the Winter Challenge because we didn’t want it to necessarily have it be a hockey game every year. We may do curling, we may do basketball, and we may do a poker tournament – who knows?”
During his pre-game speech to the crowd, Lumley announced that phase three will officially break ground on April 13. ARRES also announced the date of Aug. 23 for its second annual golf tournament at Woodside Golf Course.
Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown, who was the victim of surprise pie-in-the face attack by Dennis Polonich during a first period team photo break, said he was impressed by the support from the city’s residents.
“We have a real generous community; they support a lot of different things, so we’re just lucky to have the community that we have,” he said. “It’s been a great day and I think we raised a bit of money. But, more importantly, I hope we raised some awareness for ARRES and how much money they need to raise for the significant portion of Genesis Place phase three. It’s going to be a great addition to our community in the next few years.”
“It’s fun for us and it’s rewarding for us because a lot of us came from small towns and, truthfully, we used to live at the rinks,” said Polonich, one of the alumni organizers.
“I know what it’s like when ice isn’t available for the kids. This project of them building an additional two rinks is awesome.”
“I love to do this kind of stuff,” added former NHLer Archie Henderson. “It’s great for the community. You can really see it come together and they’ve got a big goal here. They’ve got a long way to go, but is one of the things that will help them get to their goal – and it was great to be a part of it. It’s a legacy that will be here long after all of us are gone.”
Crossfield Mayor Nathan Anderson also played in the game and said it was important for him to represent support from his town, as well as his brother, MLA Rob Anderson, who was not in attendance due to campaign preparations for the upcoming provincial election.
“I think anything that is a good news story for Airdrie is a good news story for Crossfield and vice versa,” he said. “We try to help other out and I think it’s a vital relationship for Crossfield. Airdrie is our next closest municipality and we learn a lot from them.”