Thursday, December 18, 2014

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NYers Of The Week: Christopher John, Hockey Teammates Organize Game To Aid Sandy Relief

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Passion, and frustration, with a sport he loves pushed a young New Yorker to turn hockey into a way to help Hurricane Sandy victims. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.

With pucks, sticks and skates at the ready, 8-year-old Christopher John turned his passion for playing hockey, and frustration with professional hockey, into a good cause.

"I was at home talking about hockey with my dad, and I was like, 'Hey, it would be a great thing to come up with our own Winter Classic because we could raise money for Hurricane Sandy victims,'" John said.

John plays in a Tier 1 youth hockey program. Several of his teammates on the Avalanche, and players from the rival Long Island Royals, suffered damage to their homes during Hurricane Sandy.

"A lot of people lost things that they really loved, like pictures and toys and all that type of stuff," John said. "I felt sad for the people because they lost a lot."

"That's why we're versus the Royals, because they are in part that got hit," said Tino Raftis, one of John's teammates on the Avalanche. "Because we don't want them to feel bad about their homes."

So they decided to help. They planned their own Winter Classic at Central Park’s Lasker rink.

The idea took off.

"I went downstairs to get my dad, and then I ran around the house four times," said Kevin Rush, one of John's teammates on the Avalanche. "Because I was really excited and I never knew it would happen. I was kind of sad that people lost their homes. I felt kind of excited that we were going to help them after we got the news."

Fundraising is underway. Hockey sporting goods brand CCM agreed to match all donations for a Hurricane Sandy relief fund started by the nonprofit Help USA.

"All these kids were impacted one way or another," said Tom Dumahel, the coach of the Avalanche. "It may have been as simple as not having to go to school for a week, or some people certainly have material losses, too. It's nice to be able to see them, even at a young age, do something to raise some money, and it helps people who are struggling a little bit get back on their feet."

So, for using the sport he loves to get Hurricane Sandy victims the help they need, Christopher John and his teammates are our New Yorkers of the Week.

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