Officials Make Donation After Humboldt Tragedy

Wednesday, May 16, 2018 - As the entire hockey world stood still on Saturday, April 7, the day after the tragic Humboldt Broncos’ bus collision, a handful of Saskatoon and Prince Albert' Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) referees and linesmen, discussed the best way to show their support for the team and hockey community.

The first two ideas that came to mind, explains Joel Thiessen, one of the driving forces behind the fundraising efforts, were blood donation and a fundraiser to support the families in some way.

After discussion, those officials got to work. The group’s intention was to do a collective donation on behalf of all officials within the SJHL and the Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA), but that expanded outside of that provincial junior A league and outside the province’s boundaries. Mike Langin, who recently joined the SHA Referee Division this season after living in British Columbia and working in Western Hockey League (WHL) took the initiative across western Canada collecting donations from over 25 WHL officials that reside outside of Saskatchewan as well. The suggestion was that if everyone could donate the amount of a game fee, that would be a great way to contribute. However, many went above and beyond that donating the game fees from every Broncos’ game they worked this season. Some even went so far as to donate their entire expense cheques for the months of February and March to the campaign. By that Saturday evening the group had raised over $5,000, with many more sending in contributions the following couple of days. The final amount raised by over seventy-five officials, and supervisors. was $8,391.40

“We felt it was important to show that despite the tension that exists throughout a hockey season between the teams and all of us officials, this goes beyond the game,” said Thiessen. “We are all part of the hockey family. We care for one another and have each other’s backs when tragedy strikes.”

As mentioned, the initial plan was to send the donation directly to the families affected through either the GoFundMe campaign or through the league or team office. Once seeing the overwhelming support for that cause, which raised $15,175,500 it became apparent that there were other organizations heavily involved in the rescue efforts that also needed support and recognition. These organizations include but are not limited to: local first responders, EMT's and Paramedics, local volunteer fire departments, the RCMP and STARS Air Ambulance, which the group decided they would show their appreciation and support with their donation. The group decided that this service is vitally important, not only in Saskatchewan, but throughout Western Canada. It costs millions of dollars to operate annually and considering that they are only funded in part by the provinces they serve, it takes a tremendous amount of support, donations, and fundraising to keep them in the air.

This initiative was the collective idea of about twenty of the SJHL officials from Northern Saskatchewan who wanted to help in anyway they could, and it couldn't have been done successfully without the help of all those who donated and helped spread the word.

This was an amazing initiative to honour all of those involved in the tragedy and to remember the 2017-18 Humboldt Broncos.

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