DES MOINES, Iowa -- Out on the concourse at Wells Fargo Arena on Tuesday night, hockey fans wrote messages to the Humboldt Broncos--the Canadian team that lost many of its players in a fatal bus crash--on a banner that will be sent to the mourning community.
Jeff Taylor of Woodward was one of those people.
"I sent my condolences and my well wishes," said Taylor, who is an Iowa Wild season ticket holder and plays in the Wild Adult Hockey League. "No matter how small your gesture is, if you are a fan of the game or if you play the game, you feel like you have to do something no matter how big or how small it is, and this is just a small way for me to send my condolences to the players, the team, and the families affected by this."
During the game, the Iowa Wild held a silent auction benefiting the Broncos, with items such as a Zach Parise-autographed jersey and hockey stick. Various novelty items were also on sale with proceeds benefiting the Broncos fund. In total, the auction raised more than $5,000 for the Humboldt community.
At JT's Slapshot Hockey Shop in Windsor Heights, where fundraising efforts have also been underway, hundreds of dollars have been donated by people who want to do something to help. As of Tuesday Night, $854.33 had been raised.
"There's always a basketball family, a baseball family, but with hockey, there's just a lot of things that go on that make it, you know, unique to some other sports," said Ryan Ehrhardt, the CEO of JT's. "Like the bus trips or the hour to two hours you have to be at the rink before a game, you know, it just adds up and there's a lot of support with everyone, so it's really a family sport."
Scott Willcox of Clive is showing a sign of solidarity with the Humboldt Broncos by putting his sticks and skates out on his front porch.
"Those young kids, they were living the dream," said Willcox. "They were living that life. They were learning the respect...and playing as hard as they could, and unfortunately it was cut short for them."
Willcox, a lifelong hockey player, says other players around the world are a big family that have a special bond.
"It gets in your blood and it never leaves, and you just do it as much as you can and you try and do it for as long as you can," said Willcox. "And those kids had a short road that they'd been playing and had a long road ahead of them to keep playing."
*Thumbnail photo courtesy of Shane Abbitt