By Alana Melanson
FITCHBURG -- Fitchburg State University and the Fitchburg Police Relief Association are partnering to put on a hockey game to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.
"What brings us together this morning is a common vision, and a common attitude to do something that really is important for the community," said FSU President Robert Antonucci, surrounded by hockey players and members of the association at a press conference Wednesday morning at the Wallace Civic Center. "And by bringing together the Police Department and the hockey team, together with the university, we can make a difference."
He said the university and Fitchburg police have many partnerships, and "this is another example where we come together for the good of the city."
The game will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, at Wallace, and will feature Fitchburg State against UMass Dartmouth.
The idea for the benefit game came from Falcons Coach Dean Fuller, who during the summer attended the Relief Association's Community 5K Road Race, which raised funds for the Wounded Warrior Project.
He thought, "Why not see if we can sell out the Civic Center?" he said at Wednesday's press conference.
Officer Jude Chabot, president of the Fitchburg Police Relief Association, the charitable arm of Fitchburg Police Department, said the association has been raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project for the past three years.
"We're excited that we have another opportunity to collaborate on a project that can have a real positive impact for our fighting men and women," he said.
The hockey team is also excited for the match.
"We're definitely excited to do this for a great cause, hopefully raise some money and pack the house," said Shawn Bradley, 22, of Tewksbury.
Sean Loebs, 23, of Cresskill, N.J., said he has participated in benefit games before, and knows this one will be a "huge success."
"We'll have a great turnout and we're playing a good team, so it's going to be an exciting hockey game, too," he said.
Antonucci said the goal is to sell 2,500 tickets, but he would like to sell 5,000.
Wounded Warrior Project volunteer Robin Connors, of Fitchburg, said she began raising funds for the organization, which helps veterans returning from war with physical and psychological needs, to teach her children the value of helping others. Coming from a service family, the cause is near and dear to her heart, she said.
While the war may be over for the majority of Americans, it's not over for many servicemen and women, Connors said.
"They struggle every day, always trying to get over what has happened," she said.
Connors said the event will be "much more than a hockey game," and that it will include guest speakers, raffles and other special surprises.
Tickets for the benefit game are $10 per person and may be purchased through members of the Fitchburg Police Relief Association, at the Wallace Civic Center or online at https://support.fitchburgstate.edu/warrior. All proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Donations aside from game tickets will also be accepted. For more information, call Connors at 978-846-8665 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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