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The Winter Classic Pledge Drive: A Tradition Worth Keeping

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Casey Richey

It's been nearly four years since I wrote this post in the member's blog at Kuklas Korner following the original Herm 2 Hockeytown drive which raised money for the Childrens Hospital of Michigan Foundation . Since then, the pledge drive has grown every single year until the lockout killed the momentum and sapped some of the magic of what was going to be a great Winter Classic get-together and an even better party for Wings fans.

The pledge drive is back this year and is getting ready to play out. I want you to head to The Production Line and take part in the festivities. Ken Daniels wants you to take part in the fun too. For a reminder of the good you'll be doing, here's the post I wrote just five days after mine and my wife's first daughter was born.

The Herm 2 Hockeytown weekend has finally come and gone and everybody is no doubt left with a ton of great memories and fantastic feelings about what the hockey community has accomplished in committing to this undertaking.

If it’s possible, I want to make sure you feel even better about what, exactly, everybody accomplished, even if they only donated money and didn’t join the get together. Heck, even if you donated money and cheered for the Wild to run over the Red Wings, I want you to know that I can’t thank you enough for what you have done for somebody.

As you no doubt know, the H2H donation drive reached the amount needed to bring Guilherme from Brazil pretty quickly; from there, all donations went to the Childrens Hospital of Michigan Foundation. I donated with little more than a nebulous knowledge that what I was doing for a good cause.

This week, I got to learn first-hand just how much of a good cause it is.

At 3 am on Wednesday, the 24th, my wife awoke from her sleep and so began the day our first daughter would be born. At 2:14 pm, Emma from Kansas was introduced to the world. My wife was allowed to hold her only briefly before she was again taken and put under an oxygen hood. Our daughter had breathed in some fluid during birth and was having difficulty. Within the next hour, our doctor was telling us that she was recommending we move her from our local hospital to the Children’s Mercy Hospital in kansas City, Missouri. She explained that Emma was expected to recover fully, but sometimes children with her condition would momentarily improve and then get significantly worse fast and that she would have the best chance at an intensive care unit that specializes entirely in treating sick infants. A little confused and very terrified, we agreed and our doctor made the call to have them come pick her up and move her.

From what I’ve learned over the last four days, we’re one of the luckiest families to have a child in The Children’s Mercy Hospital. However, if you had told me that on Wednesday night while I was driving 45 minutes in the pouring rain while my wife lay helpless and terrified in the local hospital bed unable to join us until the next day, I would have kicked you in the crotch until I literally died from exhaustion. Before Henrik Zetterberg tied Wednesday’s game against the St. Louis Blues at 1-1 early in the 2nd period, I met the first of a seemingly endless supply of the best-trained and most well-equipped angels in the entire region who would take care of me and my family through some extremely emotionally trying hours.

Children’s Mercy Hospital would be a real easy place to lose one’s mind if it weren’t for the extremely dedicated, extraordinarily competent, profoundly patient, and overwhelmingly friendly staff who have been nothing but great for our entire stay.

When you donated to Herm 2 Hockeytown, you donated to help pay the salaries of the people who have to meet and treat people currently going through the worst tragedies they’ll ever encounter. The people who keep smiles on their faces and upbeat tones in their voices, despite not only having to witness these tragedies first hand, but often having to bear the burden of delivering the news of them to people who make hockey fans during the third OT in a game seven look positively zen by comparison.

Your donation helped to pay for the decorations that are designed to make kids feel like they’re in one giant playground instead of a hospital and which admittedly help make parents sometimes forget that too.

Your donation helped to pay for a heart monitor, a breathing tube, an IV pump, and even a tray designed to hold a newborn still while a doctor performs a surgery that will save his life.

Your donation to H2H might not have gone directly to the hospital from which my newborn daughter will be released soon, but if it weren’t for people like you, places like this wouldn’t be possible. You may be coming away from this weekend with everlasting memories of a great time or maybe just warm feelings knowing that you gave money to a great cause and proved that the hockey fan community is the best out there. But that’s nothing compared to what you helped give my family this weekend. You helped give us this and I can’t thank you enough:


Oh, and to my Red Wings fans friends. Sometimes the world gives you a sign that lets you know that everything is going to be all right. Well, here’s the bed that they assigned Emma from Kansas to when she arrived. Just perfect, don’t you think?


As a follow-up, Emma will reach her fourth birthday before this season is over. Our family has grown by one more in that time with the addition of her little sister Ellie (who we are very thankful did not have to spend any time at a childrens hospital), and will be growing by one more come July.

Emma prefers things like The Little Mermaid or Sophia the First to hockey right now, but when the Red Wings are on, she'll watch with me, waiting excitedly for the Red Wings to score. When that happens, we have a little tradition.

Please head here to set your pledges for the upcoming games. It could mean the world to somebody special.

Thank you.