‘Battle for the Badges’ charity hockey game raises thousands for first responder mental health

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Everyone won in the “battle for the badges”.

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The charity hockey game took place on Saturday, February 26 at Grant Fuhr Arena in Spruce Grove. It pitted the Midget AA PAC Saints against a team consisting of Parkland RCMP officers and firefighters from the Spruce Grove Fire Department (SGFD).

The final score was 5-4 in favor of the PAC Saints.

The purpose of the game was to raise funds and awareness for first responders struggling with mental health issues. While exact numbers are still being worked out, organizers estimate the event raised between $7,000 and $10,000. Proceeds will go to the Legacy Place Society, an Alberta-based organization that provides confidential peer support and user-friendly resources to first responders and military personnel.

“With Covid, mental health has been at the forefront of many people’s minds. I think one thing that gets lost in all of this is that the mental health of first responders is also a big issue around the world. This is something we need to highlight at this time. I personally know first responders who have been affected and people who have committed suicide. It’s definitely something close to my heart,” said Miles Valiquette, Parkland RCMP officer and event organizer.

Around 600 spectators had the opportunity to donate at the door while raffles and 50/50 tickets were sold both at the event and online.

Outside the arena, children had the opportunity to explore police cruisers and meet RCMP officers, SGFD firefighters, paramedics and Monty, the RCMP security bear . Those in attendance at the game included Spruce Grove Mayor Jeff Acker, SGFD Chief Robert Kosterman and Parkland RCMP Detachment Commander Mike Lokken, all of whom participated in the puck-off ceremony. Parkland RCMP and local singer-songwriter Sterling John performed the national anthem.

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The event was supported by dozens of sponsors including but not limited to local businesses such as the TransAlta Tri Leisure Center, Calahoo Meats, That Yoga Place, Perks Coffee House, Wilhauk Beef Jerky, Perks Coffee House, 88.1 The One FM, Nicky’s Pretzels, Orchard Berry Arrangements and creative color printing.

In addition to the planned donation to the Legacy Place Society, event organizers presented the Parkland Athletic Club Board of Directors with a check for $2,000 at the charity game. Valiquette said the donation is intended to support the club’s own mental health initiatives.

The hope is to turn the “battle for the badges” into an annual fundraiser in the community. Once next year’s hockey season begins, Valiquette said event organizers, including himself, plan to sit down with the Parkland Athletic Club to plan the next charity game.

“You normally see charity events for specific organisations, but they never really bring together a whole community. I think that’s something that was really important in this one. We really wanted to involve young people and show them that we we’re all in this together and if they need anything we’re here for them and vice versa,” Valiquette said.

rhowell@postmedia.com

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Catherine J. Martinez