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Ice Hawks contributed mightily to autism benefit

By Brad Trahan

I am co-founder with my wife Joanie of the RT Autism Awareness Foundation, Inc. in Rochester.

This past Labor Day we decided at the last minute to put on what we titled "Autism Fest 2007."

It was a music festival held in the parking lot of Rookie’s Sports Bar and Grill. The event featured five bands in one day and went from 12:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Autism is the fastest growing developmental disability in our nation today and one in 150 children born today are diagnosed with autism and one in 94 boys who are born today are diagnosed with autism. There is no known cause or cure for autism and 70 percent of our dads and moms who have children with autism end their marriage in divorce.

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We soon learned that putting on such a production takes a lot of work and volunteers. When we met with our stage and sound production vendor, he informed us that he would really like to have some volunteers to help the bands on and off the stage as we only had 30 minutes between acts. We also realized we needed help the day before to get properly set up.

At that time, I remembered Minnesota Ice Hawks coach Nick Fatis had always offered his players to help give back to the community. So I picked up my phone and told him the situation.

"I’ll have every one of my 30 players there," Fatis said.

Not only that, but he had 10 players there the day before setting up for over six hours.

On this Labor Day, we had the whole Ice Hawks team there to help. And boy did they ever. The Ice Hawks scored a victory on that day before even hitting the ice.

The Ice Hawks worked their tails off all day. Setting up, tearing down, helping bands between this and that, and doing absolutely everything that was asked of them. And I mean everything.

What was so impressive and showed the quality and professionalism of this team is that not one of the players complained at any time during the event. At no time were any of them messing around.

Our event was a successful one for the first year, and we plan to do it again. We netted around $10,000, and we were able to provide autism education and awareness to about 1,000 people.

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There is no doubt the Ice Hawks players were clearly the backbone of this event. We simply could not have done it without them. Not only was I impressed, but they also impressed city leaders and politicians. More importantly, they impressed several citizens of this community. I have learned that through their hard work and effort at this event, some Ice Hawks were offered jobs in the community.

I attended the home opener this past Saturday for the Ice Hawks, and what a pleasure it was to see their game well attended. These young men were and are as professional and polite as it gets. They are a very fine representation of both the hockey organization and league for which they play.

My wife and I are housing an Ice Hawk this year and what a joy it’s been. He is so patient and caring of our son Reece’s needs. He does things around the house without being asked, and curfew is never an issue. He says "please" and "thank you" for everything.

No matter what any of the Ice Hawks do after they leave the team, there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll be successful. They stepped up in such a big way.

Their past record on the ice speaks for itself. However, the performance they gave off the ice was far more impressive than any game they will play.

Great credit goes to the whole Ice Hawks organization, especially coach Fatis. I’m not sure if he understands this, but he will truly be a positive impact on these young men after they leave the Ice Hawks organization and well after their hockey days are over.

Personally, I’ve lived in this town for 26 years, and I’m going to do everything I can to support this organization. Going to the games, bringing friends with, everything. I’ll be organizing several group outings to attend Ice Hawks games, mainly as a sincere thank you to the organization. I feel the biggest way to support these young men and to show them the appreciation for their work is for me to rally a group of people and attend their games. We will cheer loud and proud for this fine organization and the young men that make up this year’s team.

It was important for me to take the time to write this. We hear of so many negatives in the sporting world that I could not let this positive slide by without recognizing these young men.

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With representation from a group of guys like we witnessed, you will not fine a better group of young men and organization.

For more information, go to Postbulletin.com/weblinks

www.RTAutismAwareness.org

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