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Red Wings to help raise funds, awareness of congenital heart disease

North Shore Cruisers to hold jersey auction, other fundraisers at Saturday game

The goal is always winning the hockey game when the Elliot Lake Red Wings hit their home ice.

But when the Wings host Kirkland Lake Gold Miners at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 19 in a matinee encounter at Centennial Arena, they'll also be hosting a congenital heart disease awareness game in partnership with North Shore Cruisers car club. 

They'll have cookies on sale, a donation bucket and the team will be wearing special congenital heart disease jerseys which will be auctioned off during the game.  

Fans can fill in an auction sheet at the game or they can call 705-885-0199 to register to bid on a player's jersey for friends and family who are not at the game.  

The opening bids start at $100.

There's another option, too. Supporters can order their own Red Wings congenital heart disease hockey sweater, also for $100.

The fundraiser is to support Elliot Lake and area children who have congenital heart disease, and their families. 

The North Shore Cruisers car club has been fundraising for over 30 years to reduce financial strain as child patients and their families cope with the disease and to help people with other childhood injuries, illnesses and disabilities.

That includes assistance with funding to purchase wheelchairs, building ramps, providing special equipment, and buying locator bracelets for special needs children, through Project Lifesaver. 

Elliot Lake's Jessie Chetchie Hennessey's young son Elijah has been a congenital heart disease patient since birth. 

He has also had to undergo brain surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto last October. His recovery included post-op procedures and therapy which unexpectedly extended the family's stay in Toronto into December. 

Needless to say planning, then paying for such a stay, became a great concern.

North Shore Cruisers has had to forego major fundraisers over the past two years such as the annual summer North Shore Challenge Drag Racing weekend at Elliot Lake Airport, due to COVID.  

Nonetheless, the club continues its labour of love in support of kids in need and their families. All proceeds from the Feb. 19 Red Wings game are going to the North Shore Cruisers sick kids fund.

For every dollar raised for heart research in general, less than a penny goes to congenital heart disease - hence the need for a separate fundraiser.

Elijah's father is an employee of HiRail Leasing on Perini Road. The company has also stepped up to provide money to help start up the congenital heart disease game fundraiser.

"The new parent company got back almost immediately and said they would sponsor the game," said Hennessey.

She never doubted the generosity of Elliot Lakers after Elijah was born and his health challenges became clear.

"The community came together and they raised $32,000 for my family," she said. "I said when I was able I would do everything I could to pay it back to the community and that's why I'm the fundraising coordinator for the North Shore Cruisers."

"The team (Red Wings) owner's niece has congenital heart disease as well. So there's a personal connection for the home team," Hennessey said.

Congenital heart disease is the umbrella term to describe children with one or more problems with the heart present at birth, she added. It affects one in 100 children and it's 60 times more prevalent than all childhood cancers combined.

There is no cure for the disease and it's a lifelong disease with many patients requiring heart transplants and or multiple surgeries.

Anyone unable to attend the Red Wings game can access this link to donate.

For more information, contact Hennessey at 705-849-6848.


About the Author: Brent Sleightholm

As a reporter, Brent has covered everything from amateur and professional sports, to politics, entertainment, police and courts, to human interest stories and government issues
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