Former NHL star helps 2 Sauk Rapids girls play hockey, will speak at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School on Nov. 23
SAUK RAPIDS — Brent Pakkala started out wanting to help one girl.
He could end up helping a number of kids in the area play hockey … and it started on Twitter.
Since the end of July, Pakkala has been able to raise enough money to help two girls from the same family to play this season when they thought they would not be able to afford it.
He has done it with an assist from former NHL All-Star Theo Fleury and the a few of several of Fleury’s followers on Twitter.
Fleury, who is based in Alberta and has not been to Central Minnesota before, will try to help more kids on the weekend of Nov. 22-24.
He plans to meet the girls and attend one of their games, give a one-hour speech at 3 p.m. Nov. 23 at the Performing Arts Center at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School and attend the St. Cloud State hockey games that weekend.
Tickets to hear Fleury speak cost $20 and all proceeds will go to the Minnesota Youth Foundation, which helps families struggling financially pay for to play hockey.
“(Fleury) said, ‘I want to talk to your community about helping those in need and helping people out,’” Pakkala said of a conversation they had in early August. “(Fleury said), ‘I want to make it big and make it beyond this year. I want to do what we can.’
“I said, ‘Theo, I’m a fifth-grade teacher. I don’t know how to do this kind of stuff.’ He said, ‘Well, let’s have at it. Let’s get on it.’”
It started in July
The association of Fleury and Pakkala began in July. Pakkala was coaching an Under-10 girls softball team that his daughter, Callie, and her friend, Hannah Trelfa, played on.
Hannah became friends with Callie last winter when the two were on the same Sartell/Sauk Rapids U10 girls hockey team.
Pakkala asked Hannah if she wanted to try softball and she had a good season. Michelle Trelfa, Hannah’s mom, went in to the dugout to talk to the coaches on the last day of softball.
“She just walked in to thank us for getting Hannah involved in softball and that she had had a lot of fun,” Pakkala said. “She said that Hannah really needed this, particularly since she can’t play hockey this year.”
Michelle and her husband, Mike, had separated and the couple has six girls. Michelle is working on a master’s degree in gerontology and Mike is a disabled veteran.
Three of their girls wanted to play hockey this winter, but the family was going to be able to pay for one, 12-year-old Abby, to play.
“I talked to my dad and he was offering to pay for Abby to play and he said he knew that it was hard, but Abby is the oldest and closest to high school, and at that age, a team sport can help kids in a lot of ways,” Michelle said. “He said, ‘It’s up to you.’ It’s a lot of money and I thought, as long as one is in, it’s great.
“They have scholarships available and they try to help as many families as they can,” Trelfa said of Sauk Rapids Youth Hockey Association. “It helps pay for about 50 percent (of monthly ice costs), which is awesome and we’ve been fortunate to have that.”
It ate at Pakkala, though, that even with scholarship help, only one Trelfa would be able to play hockey. One of the problems was that when Pakkala found out about the problem, it was July 30th and there were hockey dues that were due on July 31.
Pakkala has been a fan of Fleury’s since Fleury played junior hockey in the Western Hockey League. Pakkala grew up in Kirkland, Wash., and had seen Fleury play for Moose Jaw when they played in Seattle.
In recent years, Pakkala had followed Fleury (@TheoFleury14) on Twitter and, to his surprise, Fleury had been following him. Because they were following one another on Twitter, Pakkala was able to send direct messages to Fleury that only he could see.
Pakkala was hoping that Fleury might be able to direct him to a website or an organization that might be able to help. Instead, Fleury responded and told Pakkala to tell his story, 140 characters at a time, and Fleury would re-tweet all of them and then Fleury posted the whole story on his Facebook page.
Pakkala had found out in talking further with Michelle that their younger daughter, 9-year-old Hope, also wanted to play. They set a goal of $870. Within 30 minutes, they had raised $500.
Read the entire story from teh Source @ http://www.sctimes.com/article/20131111/SPORTS/311110004/Social-media-Fleury-help-raise-money-family