High school hockey teams from all across Fairfield County, along with the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference (FCIAC), are rallying together to help end ALS in January with an effort called “Ice ALS,” inspired in part by a hockey-playing Wilton family whose father is battling ALS right now.

Eric Craven, 48, was diagnosed with ALS in 2013. The Cravens’ daughters, identical twins, Amanda and Elizabeth, are seniors and captains of Wilton High School girls’ hockey team. Their son, David, who graduated from WHS last year, also played hockey for the school, is now playing D2Club Hockey at College of the Holy Cross. Last year, WHS hockey organized fundraisers around some of the girls and boys squads’ games.

This year, the effort has expanded county-wide, as the entire FCIAC announced their sponsorship in helping to raise awareness and funds for research to find a cure for ALS. “We have some of the best athletes in the country,” said FCIAC executive secretary John Kuczo. “It makes sense these fantastic athletes who happen to also be accomplished scholastically and committed to giving back to their communities come together as one.” Rivals on and off the ice are coming together to raise funds for ALS research in honor of ALS patients everywhere.

From Jan 9-23, Fairfield County high school ice hockey teams will each host an #IceALS game to benefit ALS research in partnership with and for the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS.net), the world’s first and largest nonprofit biotech focused 100 percent on ALS research. In all, almost 30 games will be played as part of the coordinated effort by both girls’ and boys’ teams. There will be a myriad of opportunities to raise funds, including 50/50 raffles, entrance fees, bracelet sales, and online donations. Players also will each have blue/white striped laces and helmet stickers to commemorate the event.

With the help of all the hockey teams participating, each school has a goal of raising $5,000 with a combined campaign goal of $100,000 for ALS research taking place at the Institute. In addition, up to $5,000 will be triple matched for a total of $15,000 for the school who raises the most funds the month of January.

Being the inspiration for the league-wide fundraiser is incredibly meaningful to the Craven family, says mom Claire.

“Eric and I are so honored to be involved with the amazing athletic directors, coaches, players and families in the FCIAC and are touched by their support to find a cure for ALS. In a day when there seems to be too much divisiveness around us, it’s wonderful to see 15 schools rally together behind such a great cause; even Blue Line Sports in Darien donated all the helmet stickers for all 20 teams and their opponents! We are going to try and be at most of the games in January and are looking forward to meeting so many who will come and support these fantastic young hockey players by donating to their favorite school at als.net/IceALS.”

Additionally, a former ice hockey player at Trinity Catholic, Drew Schemera, passed away from ALS in 2009 at only 36 years old. Many of the TC family were especially close to him, including head coach Mike Bernard and his two sons, current varsity players Daniel and Kyle. In 2013 the TC family had their new weight room dedicated in honor of Schemera.

David Schulz, past-president of FCIAC, adds, “The FCIAC is very proud to partner with #IceALS and work together to bring awareness and help find a cure to this debilitating disease. We look forward to the games this coming January involving our ice hockey athletes and coaches and hope to make it an annual tradition to continue in the fight to find a cure for ALS.”

Wilton will host the following games (check online for the complete schedule):

  • Wednesday, Jan. 13, 6:45 p.m.:  Wilton Boys vs. Trumbull (Wintergarden Ice Arena)
  • Wednesday, Jan. 13, 8:50 p.m.:  Wilton Girls vs. Ridgefield (Wintergarden Ice Arena)
  • Wednesday, Jan. 20, 8 p.m.: Wilton Girls vs. Greenwich (SONO Ice House)

For more information and to donate, please visit the event’s website, and follow the effort on social media via hashtag, #IceALS.

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