Leafs alumni hockey game sells out, benefits F.A.R.E.

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It was an ambitious project bringing the Toronto Maple Leafs alumni team to play a fundraising hockey game in Tillsonburg, a southwestern Ontario town of nearly 17,000 people.

Seats sold out in early January (750) and the standing room tickets, just over 150 of them bringing total paid/sponsored attendance to about 918, sold out at least four days before Saturday’s game against the hometown Tillsonburg FARE Flurries at the Kinsmen Memorial Arena.

“I think there were six standing room tickets left on Monday, and by Tuesday they had been spoken for,” said Rick Cox, Town of Tillsonburg Director of Recreation, Culture and Parks.

VIP tickets sold for $100, which gave the VIPs a Meet the Leafs experience before the game and between-periods dressing room visit. Seated tickets went for $30 ($20 before Jan. 1) and standing room tickets $25 ($15 before Jan. 1).

“We wanted to raise money, but we didn’t want to price it out of range for folks,” said Cox. “We sold a lot of tickets before Christmas.”

Funds were also raised through sponsors.

“We felt very supported by the community,” said organizer Andrea Brown, Town of Tillsonburg Recreation Programs and Services Manager.

And with the support of the community, which included about $3,000 from online auctions, funds were raised for the Fee Assisted Recreation Experience program, which gives recreational opportunities in Tillsonburg to less fortunate families and individuals in Oxford County.

“We’re thrilled with the support we got from the community, from the players, from the volunteers, from everyone who stepped up and helped us make this happen,” said Cox.

Funds were also raised through a 50-50 draw, a raffle, and chuck-a-puck. Organizers had expected to announce the fundraising total by the end of the week, but delayed that announcement to some time next week.

“We raised some money, we had a good time. And we lifted the lid on the roof here for a little while here in Tillsonburg. It was a good night and that’s what it’s all about.”

The Leafs alumni, always entertaining on the ice, were outstanding ambassadors for the Maple Leafs and the sport of hockey.

“They were very generous with the time,” said Cox.

It has been some years since the Memorial Arena sold out for a hockey game – and it was a win for everyone – fans, players, and FARE.

“The exercise of doing this, for my team, was good to show what we can do,” Cox summed up. “It was good for us to learn some things and try some things out. Tillsonburg can pull some stuff off when they put their mind to it. Andrea (Brown) and her team stepped up on the organizing the event side, and the facilities team, they took a lot of care with the ice and the building to make sure we were ready for today. I couldn’t be more proud of the team and the event. And we’re grateful that Council gave us the opportunity to do this for the community… to help others experience recreation. It’s a great story all around. It feels good for the team, it feels good for the town.”