Toledo began a 7 game home stand on Wednesday with a convincing 6-2 victory over the Atlanta Gladiators, moving up to 10-3-0-0 for the year! The game also began a theme of giving back this week, as the game was a school day for the Walleye! Many local schools were brought in to have a morning of T-Town Hockey, giving kids a fun experience to share with their classmates. On Friday and Saturday Toledo will continue to give back to the community, with many events planned for the weekend. Veterans will be honored with a Veteran’s Appreciation Game, as well as a post-game party with the players for all game ticket holders. On Saturday Toledo will have their first special jersey of the year with 16-bit night, followed by a post-game jersey auction benefiting the Walleye Wishing Well and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Let’s take a closer look at the coming festivities.
November is a time for professional athletes to give back to the Veterans of our armed forces, across all levels of competition. The Detroit Red Wings host a number of veterans every game to show their support, and on Tuesday they held their Military Appreciation Night with specialty warm up jerseys that will be auctioned off to support the Volunteers of America Michigan’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families program. ECHL teams across the country do their part for local veterans as well. The Walleye honor a veteran every game with their Hickory Farms Home Town Hero ceremony, the veteran receives video board recognition during a TV timeout and a gift from Toledo based company Hickory Farms. Toledo plans to ramp up this program on Friday for the appreciation night. Prior to the game the Walleye will hold a ceremony honoring those currently serving and those who have served in our armed forces. Throughout the game the Walleye will recognize veterans and their families in attendance in a similar manner to the Home Town Hero program. The cherry on top will be veterans receiving a discounted ticket price to the game, hopefully we will get a packed house of servicemen/women. Following the game all fans in attendance can stick around for a post-game party with the Walleye, and I have a feeling the players will be sure to spend some extra time with the veterans in attendance.
On the day after Toledo celebrates their Veterans they will kick it old school while supporting charity with their 16-bit game. Last year the Walleye held an 8-bit game featuring a matchup against the Fort Wayne Komets with Mario and Bowser themed jerseys respectively. Saturday’s contest will have the Walleye square off against the Kalamazoo Wings, just like on Friday, and both teams will have specialty jerseys for the contest. Toledo will have a 16-bit style, while Kalamazoo will have an 8-bit style that they will wear for a themed game later in their season. Following the game there will be an auction held for the game worn Walleye jerseys, and the auction proceeds will benefit two charities. The first charity is the Walleye Wishing Well, which benefits many local programs that promote healthy living and youth hockey programs for kids who may not have access to hockey otherwise. Also benefiting the auction will be the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), and this charity was brought on board thanks to the efforts of a certain season ticket holder. Jon Gulch is a season ticket holder for the Toledo Walleye, who goes to the games with his wife and son Nick, whom I had the pleasure of meeting this year. Jon’s wife and son both have Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy, and he has dedicated his life to helping families that have been effected by the disease. One of these methods comes in the form of the Andrew Gulch Memorial Golf Outing, a golf outing made to raise money for MDA research efforts and its Detroit offices that provide treatment and resources to those families who suffer from one of the many forms of muscular dystrophy. For more information about the golf outing, or if you wish to be a part of future events, please visit their website at: http://gulchmemorial.com/. On this particular Saturday, the Gulch’s were able to organize the 16-bit jersey auction proceeds to benefit the MDA along with the Walleye Wishing Well. After the game consider showing your support to Jon and his family by dropping by the jersey auction, hey maybe even make a bid for a good cause. The Walleye organization continues to show how classy and dedicated to the community they are, and it makes me proud to be a Walleye fan.
It’s sure to be a special weekend of hockey for everyone in Toledo; whether it be veterans, fans, or players. Toledo has been homesick for a while, after all 10 of their first 12 games were on the road, so it’s good to be back on home ice again. What could be better than by celebrating the best fans in the ECHL with a fun filled weekend of hockey and giving, just in time for Thanksgiving no less. I’d love to see my fellow fans stick around for the auction after Saturday’s game, even if you don’t bid I encourage you to ask about donating to the MDA or Walleye Wishing Well. Be sure to pack the arena on Friday as well, because we have to show or vets and service members a whole lot of love too! See you this weekend, and LET’S GO WALLEYE!
Pictures are the property of Jarrod Maneval and used with his permission.