Sports are often the catalyst for a wide range of emotions. Excitement, anger, disappointment, and awe are often some of the feelings that can arise throughout the course of a given sporting event. However, there is one emotion that is sometimes forgotten. At least, it can be by those that find themselves on the side of defeat. On Saturday, that oft-neglected emotion was certainly not lost on anyone in attendance on the campus of Providence College.
That emotion was gratitude.
For the fifth time in as many years, The Light Foundation teamed up with The Boston Bruins Alumni for their annual Charity Hockey Game at Providence College’s Schneider Arena in Providence, Rhode Island. Almost seamlessly, these great organizations deliver an entertaining and heartwarming family event, while providing the opportunity to see Boston Bruins legends skate with some of the best local Rhode Island hockey players.
Simply put, it was an amazing night. Patriots Hall of Famer and 3-time Super Bowl Champion Matt Light, in conjunction with event organizer Bobby Loffredo worked with the Bruins Alumni to provide a memorable event. In doing so, they unquestionably earned the gratitude of all those in attendance, as well as the southern New England Community.
Remembering a ‘Charming’ Friend
In one of the more touching moments of the night, Light began the event by paying tribute to a courageous young man, who touched the lives of everyone he met, including Light himself.
The former Patriots’ great had met 12 year-old Ian Alexander Novacek just one year prior. As a guest at 2018’s Light Foundation and Bruins Alumni Charity Game, Ian made quite the impression on all those in attendance. Despite suffering from numerous health challenges (including surgeries, lack of mobility and chronic pain associated with achondroplasia, a genetic disorder resulting in dwarfism and future health complications) the young man never complained and radiated a positive energy that was happily infectious.
While Ian tragically passed away on August 6, 2018, his legacy will continue to live forever. In a heartwarming video tribute, all in attendance were reminded to “always be kind, and give out compliments.” That was Ian’s legacy. It was a poignant, and well-deserved honor on what would have been his thirteenth birthday.
The Boston Bruins Alumni team featured some of the greatest to ever sport the black and gold. To properly kick-off the event, Boston Bruins legend ‘Chief’ Johnny Bucyk participated in the honorary puck drop at center ice. Bruins Legends Ray Bourque, Joey Mullen, Tommy Songin and Bruins Alumni President Rick ‘Nifty’ Middleton still proved that talent is an ageless quality. Former Patriots’ linebacker Matt Chatham skated with the Bruins Alumni, and Patriots Hall of Famer Troy Brown served as an honorary coach. All in all, the Bruins Alumni looked as comfortable as ever on the ice at Schneider Arena.
Meanwhile, the Light Foundation Whalers demonstrated some pretty impressive skating of their own. The Light Foundation, led by team captain Loffredo (as well as Greg Ventura, Jeremiah Carey, Ed Brady, Brad Accetturo and many others) held their own with the Bruins Legends for much of the game. The Whalers would eventually skate to a 9-7 victory. However, in this event, everyone was a winner.
Let Us Entertain You
While the game action was stellar, the event truly did not disappoint when it came to entertainment. Music students from North Providence, Rhode Island’s School of ROCK displayed impressive musical talent both before and during the game. The musical troupe belted out such great hits as Jimi Hendrix’ Purple Haze and Guns N’ Roses Sweet Child O’ Mine to the delight of those in attendance.
Light, ever the capable master of ceremonies, conducted a halftime auction to help increase the proceeds that were raised for charity. Among the items up for bid were the game-worn jerseys of Ray Bourque and Rick Middleton, a signed jersey from Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, and a custom-made Bruins jersey, bearing the name and number of a certain New England Patriots quarterback. The two-of-a-kind Brady-Bruins jersey (the other having been made for Tom’s son) will be personally autographed by Brady himself to the winning bidder.
Defining the term ‘Win-Win’
If happiness truly defines success, then one may look no further than the Light Foundation Bruins Alumni Charity Game for validation. According to initial estimates, the event is sure to have reached and surpassed its fundraising goals. However, in addition to the funds, it has also raised the spirits of those in need, as well as those in a position to give. The smiles on everyone’s faces told the story. From the Bruins Alumni to the Light Foundation, to the fans in the Schneider Arena stands, everyone was a winner. Wishes were granted and dreams came true. That is the ultimate win-win.
On behalf of everyone who participated or attended, we say ‘thank you.’
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the NFL and NHL. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC