The fourth annual West Haven Youth Hockey Coaches versus Coaches game will take place Friday evening at the Edward L. Bennett Rink in West Haven. In its fourth year, the charity game benefits someone in the West Haven community.
This year, the game is being played in honor of West Haven High School principal Pam Gardner, who is currently battling stomach cancer.
The ever-popular Gardner was diagnosed with cancer in June of 2017 after going to the hospital for inconsistent stomach pain and bloating. All tests came back normal, except a CT scan which showed cancer. Just one month later, after further testing, Gardner started chemotherapy.
Gardner is presently in the second round of a new oral chemotherapy with another biopsy scheduled for February.
“We have always tried to do this for someone in the West Haven community who has done so much for the community,” West Haven Youth Hockey representative and organizer Callan McKeon said. “Pam has been involved in the West Haven community for so long. She has done so much. We just thought it was a good fit and a good person. We have gotten a lot of support already.”
McKeon has headed the charity games all four years, honoring Paul Hotchkiss, Thomas “Tinker” Blake, Mickey Macholl and now Gardner.
“It originally started with Paul Hotchkiss, who coached in our league,” McKeon said. “He had to take a leave of absence from coaching when he started his cancer treatments. He had two younger sons in our program and we wanted to support one of our own coaches. We came up with the idea of all the money going to charity. We honored Tinker Blake the following year and raised a lot of money, and after taking a year off, we came back stronger raising money for the Macholl family. With Pam being sick, we knew we had to step up and do something to honor Pam and give back for all she has done for the West Haven community.”
McKeon stated there has been an overwhelming support from the Board of Education, with West Haven High School alone donating ten baskets to the event’s raffle, and Mackrille donating three. Bunnell High School in Stratford, where Gardner previously served as an assistant principal, has also been very involved, selling tickets and helping with donations.
Members of the Gardner family will be in attendance with children Mackenzie, a freshman at the high school, and Kevin, a seventh-grader, taking part in the pre-game ceremonies,
McKeon and the committee putting on the benefit are expecting a large turnout for someone so popular in the area.
“We are expecting a big turnout,” McKeon said. “We are pre-selling tickets. We want to raise as much awareness and as much money as we can for Pam and the Gardner family. She has done so much for all of us.”
The contest will have baskets to raffle off, a 50/50 raffle, raffle prizes, Rita’s on site donating its proceeds, and much more to help raise money. All proceeds from the game go to the Gardner family.
West Haven hockey and softball coach Joe Morrell, former West Haven all-state goalie J.P. Withington and many other present and former West Haven Youth Hockey coaches will be participating.
West Haven Youth Hockey players will also get a chance to win $500 off their 2018-2019 tuition.
Faceoff for the charity contest is 7:30 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. To purchase tickets at $5 apiece in advance, donate, or for more information, please email email@example.com.