Washington, Ill., has received an outpouring of donations and support since a tornado devastated the town on Nov. 17. Benefactors have ranged from baseball players to rock stars to hockey players.
Now the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues alumni are donning the skates to help the city.
The Blackhawks and Blues’ former players will participate in “Skate Strong,” an exhibition game slated for Jan. 15 at Carver Arena in Peoria. Proceeds from the game will go toward the ongoing recovery efforts in Central Illinois from last month’s tornado damage.
A $10 minimum donation, per person, at the door for general seating is being requested.
Former Blackhawks and Blues forward Dennis Cyr organized the event. For Washington mayor Gary Manier, the support has been tremendous.
“It’s great that the Blackhawks and Blues are thinking about us and Central Illinois,” he said on Thursday. “I’m still overwhelmed by what we continue to receive. As time passes, people forget and have to get back to their lives and move on, but we’re faced with years of rebuilding projects. (Cyr) was the instigator (in organizing this game); he lives in the area and understands what we’re going through. I can’t wait to see what players show up.”
Doors will open at 6 p.m., with the puck dropping at 7. The game will feature two 30-minute periods and one 20-minute intermission. Fans can get player autographs and 50/50 raffle tickets will also be available for purchase during the game. Teams will auction player jerseys after the game.
Manier said his city has received plenty of support and donations. White Sox slugger Thome, who was born and raised in nearby Peoria, donated $100,000 after touring the city soon a few days after the tornado hit. REO Speedwagon and Styx headlined a fundraising concert on Dec 4. The Blackhawks have also helped; they donated $200,000 to the city’s tornado relief fund and sponsored a Thanksgiving luncheon for victims of the tornadoes and their families.
“It seems like Chicago has adopted us,” Manier said. “We continue to get a lot of attention (from Chicago), and I’m OK with that.”
Meanwhile, the city of Washington, where more than 1,000 homes were damanged or destroyed from the tornado, continues to rebuild. Manier said the city is approaching 50 percent debris removal, “which makes things look better.” The city’s gotten its share of snowfall since Nov. 17, which has impeded progress some. But Manier said the city’s residents continue to stay strong.
“A lot of roof repairs are being done, we’re starting to rebuild and it’s encouraging,” he said. “It’s getting better every day.”
For more information on the charity game, go to www.skatestronghockey.com.