In 1995, John Greenhalgh and Jeff Millman sought to create an award that honors one college hockey player that embodies what is right about the game of hockey. Each year their foundation board gathers nominations from every college varsity hockey program in the country male and female in Divisions I-III.
Both Millman and Greenhalgh have spent countless hours over the years reading biographies of Rhodes Scholar candidates, team captains, and volunteers helping our youth, the handicapped, and the disadvantaged. They also have said each year that there are, throughout college hockey and other college sports, young people whose upbringing, whose coaches, and whose athletic programs deserve notice for reasons that are far more important than what happens on the ice.
This year’s five BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award finalists all have unique stories. These players may not be the most heralded or recognized names in college hockey, but quite honestly they should be. We see nothing but greed, egos, players arguing over money and contracts, and a whole host of other negative news in the media today. That is why I want to dedicate this week’s edition of the college hockey roundup to these five incredible and admirable men and women who have sacrificed their time for their community and others around them.
J. Tuckin Mullin, who is a senior forward at St. Anselm College in Manchester, NH, is a three-time Hockey Humaintarian Award finalist. Mullin is the co-founder and executive director of the Thomas E. Smith Fight to Cure Paralysis Foundation. On August 2, 2008, Tom Smith suffered an injury that changed the course of his life forever while playing Junior A hockey in New England. Tom collided with an opposing player and his own goalie and crashed into the boards. The impact paralyzed him. Tom returned to the ice fully recovered.
Then, on October 1, 2009, Tom suffered another paralyzing spinal injury during a practice. Mullin started the foundation following Smith second injury. He also serves as an on campus ambassador for Team IMPACT, a non-profit chartered to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening illnesses throughout New England.
Jeffrey Reppucci is more than just a hockey player for Holy Cross. The junior defenseman is the founder and president of Students Helping Children across Borders. His organization provides recreational and educational opportunities to underprivileged children around the world. Reppucci has founded two other organizations as well. Playing for Peace, is a $25,000 community building project based in rural Russia that focuses on promoting community wellness for children and Working for Worcester is a city-wide project designed to promote city pride and ownership in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Senior forward Brett Beebe and 13 of his Western Michigan teammates have risen over $25,000 for breast cancer awareness. Beebe established his own foundation called Long Hair Don’t Care, after his mother passed away in the summer of 2012. Beebe and his teammates grew their hair out to provide wings for those stricken with cancer. They also spent over 50 hours renovating a home in poor Kalamazoo neighborhood.
Kaare Odegard is another repeat finalist. The senior Alaska defenseman co-founded the With All Your Heart foundations which raises funds for the Harry and Salley Porter Heart Center at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital. In just last year alone, Odegard and his Nanook teammates raised nearly $140,000. An astounding $95,000 was contributed based on team achievements, silent auctions, and private donations. Kaare and his teammates also volunteer for various events in the Fairbanks Community.
Yale Bulldogs senior forward and captain Alyssa Zupon co-founded the Bulldog PAWS program which pairs pediatric patients from Yale-New Haven hospital with Yale athletic teams to serve as support group. She is also researching the genetic causes of brain tumors as a part of her degree. Zupon also started the Hope for Tomorrow program which helped out those affected by the earthquake and tsunami is Japan.
Hats off to these five men and women. No matter who wins all five of you are heroes. The winner will be announced on April 12th in Pittsburgh during the Frozen Four.