KALAMAZOO, Mich. — In the aftermath of the mass shootings that struck Kalamazoo on Saturday, Feb. 20, the Kalamazoo Wings have pledged $2 from each ticket sold to their next home game on Saturday, March 5 against the Utah Grizzlies, and all of the proceeds from their March 17 St. Patrick’s Day jerseys, to the Help Now! Fund, a collaborative fund set up by the Battle Creek Community Foundation, Kalamazoo Community Foundation, and the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region.
“Our lives may never be the same,” said K-Wings director of sales Toni Daniels. “But we want to be able to provide the city of Kalamazoo an outlet—an opportunity for lives to feel normal.”
Kalamazoo has set an organizational goal of $10,000 worth of donations that will be accumulated through ticket sales and auction items. In addition, the Toledo Walleye have pledged nearly $5,000, the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League will be providing memorabilia to be auctioned for the fund on March 5 in Kalamazoo, and the ECHL has announced plans to donate a portion of the jersey auction proceeds from the 2016 CCM/ECHL Hockey Heritage games, which were celebrated in Kalamazoo in early February. The ECHL will also be encouraging other member teams and their fans to do the same to support their fellow ECHL community.
“We have seen overwhelming generosity from our hockey community,” Daniels said. “The ECHL, the Toledo Walleye, and many other organizations have reached out to us in the interest of contributing to the fund and helping in the recovery efforts of our region.”
The Help Now! Fund is a regional fund for all of the affected areas of the mass shooting, and will raise proceeds for:
· Supporting special financial needs of the victims and their families
· Sponsoring community vigils and anti-violence education events and activities
· Specially designed community counseling, healing and safety services that address the aftermath of violence
· Citizen safety planning and violence preparedness efforts
· Other activities directed toward reducing violence
Saturday, March 5 marks the second Kids Paint the Ice game of the season, where the theme of the event will be “We Are Kalamazoo.” Kalamazoo Wings Kidz Club members and season ticket holders will design the ice before the Saturday game, using the canvass as an expression of their community pride.
The Wings will be honoring the eight victims of the Feb. 20 shooting in a pregame ceremony that will feature first responders from area law enforcement and local officials.