More than 100 men and women took to the ice this weekend in a charity hockey tournament to raise money for the Frederick County Humane Society.
The Pucks for Pets tournament was held at Skate Frederick, through the Hockey Donkeys, over the weekend in hopes to raise money for pets in need.
The Hockey Donkeys is a local ice hockey organization that started in 2010 with one adult team, according to Keith Swaim, general manager for the Hockey Donkeys. Over the years, more teams from other areas have been added for anyone 18 years of age and up. One of the core missions for the organization is to give back to the community all while playing a beloved sport on the ice.
“For me that’s one of the main things I wanted out of the Hockey Donkeys,” Swaim said. “To play and to be able to give back.”
The organization has been holding charity tournaments for six years but chooses a different charity each time.
The Humane Society was picked this year as the recipient because one of the hockey players has a passion for animals and wanted to give back, according to Brad Gurda, member of the organization’s marketing team.
“A lot of your players and families have pets and they’re like children to them,” he said. “To raise money for an organization, whether it’s the Humane Society or anybody else, is the ultimate thing for us as athletes and community members.”
Past tournaments raised funds for cancer research and youth organizations.
“Pets have always been a part of the community,” Swaim said. “A lot of our families have adopted dogs. Everybody typically has pets.”
Emily Hildebrand, a member of the Hockey Donkeys marketing committee, said the summertime is a very crucial time for the Humane Society because not many people are in the market to adopt and supplies run low.
The organization usually brings in $3,000 to $7,000 from the tournaments. They’re hoping to raise about $5,000 for the Humane Society from this weekend’s event.
Funds are raised through donations, sponsors, merchandise sales, a silent auction and a portion of the fee to participate in the tournament.
Eight teams signed up to play in the tournament. Each team has 12 to 15 players, according to Swaim.
“It’s fun to still be involved in a sport,” Hildebrand said. “And to be able to give back to an organization that’s local and in need, it’s fulfilling that purpose.”
While players weren’t on the ice, they hung outside with their dogs or played a quick game of street hockey in the parking lot. Food trucks and other sponsors, like Flying Dog Brewery, were also on site for the event.
Melissa Kuyumjian, a Silver Spring resident who plays on one of the women’s hockey teams, was participating in the tournament for the third year in a row as she said it’s a great way to have fun and raise money for charity.
“This is definitely a fun one since we get to have all the pups everywhere,” she said.
The money raised from the hockey tournament will go towards the Humane Society’s Emergency Medical Assistance Program and the Unsung K9 Heroes Project, according to Connie Graf, director of the Frederick County Humane Society.
The emergency program, Graf explained, is when funds are allocated to a family who are facing financial challenges but their pet needs medical attention.
“Last year we paid over $111,000 in vet bills,” she said.
For the Unsung K9 Hero Project, a local organization that provides items for K9s, funds will go towards outfitting police dogs with vests, goggles and medical needs, according to Pamela Wahl, co-founder of Unsung K9 Heroes Project, which is a program of the Frederick County Humane Society.
Want to donate or catch the finals of the hockey tournament? Pucks for Pets continues Sunday, Aug. 25, from 9:40 a.m. to 3:10 p.m. at Skate Frederick.