Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane will headline a group of current and former hockey players teaming up to raise money for the Chicago Special Olympics.
Kane will join Vinnie Hinostroza, U.S. women’s Olympians, and Blackhawks and Chicago Wolves alumni for the first-ever Chicago Hockey Charity Classic. The All-Star game takes place Aug. 5 at 3 p.m. at Fox Valley Ice Arena, home of the USHL’s Chicago Steel.
The official rosters are expected to be released Tuesday night.
The inspiration for the charity game came from a similar event held at Cornell University for the past three years, which has raised $300,000 for a special needs school in Ithaca, New York.
It was a no-brainer for event chairman and Buffalo Grove native Topher Scott to bring the charity event to Chicago.
“Chicago is a magical city. As soon as we started to plan the event, it all fell into place,” Scott said on the phone. “There’s so many good people. The special needs and hockey communities are very similar. Everyone is trying to get involved.”
Scott said he enjoys helping out at these events because his two younger brothers grew up with an incurable cognitive disorder. Jack and Max Scott, both 25, have Fragile X Syndrome, which causes delays in talking, increases anxiety and can cause hyperactive behavior.
Scott emphasized the importance of inclusion with this event.
“That’s what this event is about. Special needs is all about inclusion — all abilities and all genders. Everybody belongs,” Scott said. “[The special needs kids] love it. And I think for these kids to interact with their heroes and with current Blackhawks … it’s amazing. With special needs kids, you see the beauty they have in themselves. It opens others eyes to a new perspective.”
And Scott said it wasn’t hard to find athletes willing to play for the cause.
“It all goes back to the special need community and hockey community very similar,” he said. “Athletes say, ‘Yeah, whatever I can do to help.’ They’re very giving and hardworking.”
The event will begin with a private, free skills clinic for kids with special needs.
The All-Star game will follow the two-hour clinic. The game format is two 25 minute halves.
Tickets are $25, but there are only 3,000 tickets available. Scott said they’re expecting to sell out.
The event’s main income will come from companies and families sponsoring athletes, which ranges from $1,000 to $3,000 depending on the athlete, and the jersey auction, which will follow the All-Star game.
So far, the event sponsorships have raised more than $28,000 for the Chicago Special Olympics program.