Niagara Gazette

March 22, 2014

Falls police and firefighters take to the ice March 29 to bring home 'A Dog for Jack'

Falls police and firefighters take to the ice to bring home 'A Dog for Jack'

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — For a boy who’s only 9 years old, Jack Schroeder has faced more than his fair share of challenges in life. 

Diagnosed with severe autism when he was just 18 months old, Jack has also been recently diagnosed with Type 1 juvenile diabetes. That double dose of disability can cause life threatening dangers for him.

Because Jack is nonverbal, he can’t let his parents know how he feels. That makes it hard for them to manage his fluctuating blood sugar levels. 

It leaves Jack constantly at risk of either dangerously high or low blood sugar levels. But there is a way to make Jack safer.

Jack’s potential guardian angel is a pup named Lucy. She’s a diabetic alert dog, specially trained to smell blood sugar fluctuations and to alert whenever there’s a problem. 

Lucy is in training now, but both she and that training aren’t cheap. The $18,000 cost is a steep one for parents who work as a nurse and a teacher. 

So now the Falls’ finest are stepping in. 

When Cataract City cops and firefighters face off on March 29 for their annual charity hockey game, all the proceeds will go to helping to bring Lucy home for Jack. The idea for the game to benefit Jack came from Deputy Police Superintendent Kelly Rizzo.

“(Jack’s) father works with my wife and she came home one day and told me the story,” Rizzo said. “I have two sons of my own and I couldn’t imagine what (Jack and his parents face). My heart goes out to them.”

Rizzo and his family have Sabres season tickets and they decided they would try to raffle off some tickets for Jack’s benefit. When Falls Police Officer Tom Arist, who captains the department’s hockey team, heard about the raffle, he not only bought some raffle tickers, he pitched his fellow hockey players on dedicating their charity game proceeds to the cause. 

“(The charity hockey game) is one of the only times when the police and fire departments can come together and hang out,” Arist said. “And when we can give a check to a family like Jack’s, that’s just great.”

The Schroeder family needs to raise the $18,000 for Lucy by June 1. A tracker on the webpage, A Dog for Jack, shows they’ve raised $13,101 so far, 72.8 percent of their goal.

Rizzo hopes the hockey game will be the last piece of the puzzle. 

“I hope the hockey game will put them over their goal,” the deputy superintendent said. 

After years of being dominated by the fire department’s team, Arist said his squad has become more competitive and that makes the event fun for both the players and the spectators.

“We have a lot of good players, I think we’ve got pretty comparable teams now,” Arist said. “That’s good because it gets the crowd excited and they want to come out and watch us play.”

He also praised the rank and file cops and firefighters who both play on the teams and “really step up and sell tickets and get donations.”

“This is my favorite thing that we (police and firefighters) do every year,” Arist said. 

The game will be played at 7:30 p.m. at the Hyde Park Ice Pavilion. Tickets are $5.

IF YOU GO • WHAT: Annual Falls Police vs Firefighters Charity Hockey Game • WHEN: 7:30 p.m. March 29 • WHERE: Hyde Park Ice Pavilion • COST: Tickets are $5 and available at the door