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Sunday night, a charity game involving former Blackhawks members took to the ice at Fifth Third Arena and ABC7’s Ravi Baichwal had a chance to skate with the people supporting the Inner City Education, also known as the “ICE” program.
Pucks were flying like only NHL’ers can make them, and then there were the rest who were trying to keep up — all for a good cause.
“We raise money to provide hockey and academic opportunities to low-income kids for whom these opportunities would not be available to them,” said Brad Erickson, director of Inner City Education Program.
Erickson has 150 kids in his program now that get introduced to hockey at as young an age as possible and use its structure to teach teamwork, discipline and goal-setting.
Darius Mack and Jeff Adams are graduates of the program. They started skating at 9-years-old in Garfield Park but they said they would likely not have approached their neighborhood rink had ICE not brought it to them.
“Where we come from, you know, not too far from here Garfield Park, there wasn’t a lot of opportunities to do stuff kind of open doors for us,” said Darius Mack. “Introduced us to a new game and have an opportunity for something we have an experience before and we are grateful.”
This is the first fundraiser for ICE in three years due to the pandemic.
“It is feeling great, I haven’t been on the ice in probably five years so it is exciting to be able to come back out here,” said Jeff Adams.
“It is an expensive sport. It is not available in low-income communities, so we provide equipment, coaching, ice time, mentoring and academic tutoring,” added Erickson.
The goal is to expand the program with the help of the Chicago Blackhawks and the broader hockey community, as represented by the “Beer League Legends” in this game.
“Well, just keep showing up we show up and we show our face, and they were kids want to be and see what it is about and then they see they’re interested in it and then we just wanna keep that going,” said Adams when asked how he keeps the momentum going in nontraditional hockey communities.
Jerseys from the night’s contest, which the White Team won 10-8, are being auctioned off on ICE’s website.
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