ORLANDO, Fla. – For almost two decades, the Orlando Firefighters Hockey Club has been hosting a nationwide competitive hockey tournament that goes beyond the camaraderie and love they share for the game.
At this year’s tournament, 22 teams from North America participated at the 3-day event that aims to raise funds for the families of fallen firefighters and police officers.
"It's all for a good cause and we enjoy it," Asher Blumenthal, a firefighter and Captain of OFD Hockey club said.
The charitable organization is composed of a group of Orlando firefighters as well as others from surrounding departments.
"I love my job, love playing with the guys we play with, too so it's a great combination and a great extracurricular activity that we have available to us," Blumenthal said.
Their activities include a national competitive tournament that is now in its 17th year. The game is held at Orlando’s RDV Ice Den each year.
Among the teams that played were the New York Police Department Detectives Hockey team.
On day two of the event, prior to their game against Howard County’s team from Canada, two NYPD detectives were honored with a moment of silence.
Detectives Brian Mulkeen and Brian Simonsen were both killed in the line of duty last year.
“No matter where they’re from, when they lose somebody it affects us as well and this is a way for us to help them and for them to know that we’re all still one big family no matter where we’re at,” Lt. Bradley Shanks, President of OFD Hockey club said.
A couple of years ago, Shanks explained why they changed their mission.
"As we receive those phone calls and we heard the stories of the officers that were killed, we wanted to do something, so we took it upon ourselves to change our motive of this hockey tournament," Shanks said.
The OFD Hockey club raises money and donates proceeds of the event to the affected families of fallen police officers and firefighters. A sense of solidarity Lieutenant Shanks hopes more people in the community come on-board with.
“What we would really like them to do is support them. If they sacrificed in the line of duty and they die in the line of duty, let’s help their families out,” Shanks said. “There’s firefighters and police officers dying in the line of duty every day so they’ll always be honored.”
To make a donation and support OFD Hockey club’s mission, visit: www.OFDhockey.com