Niagara Gazette

April 14, 2014

Falls police, fire charity hockey game scores big for 9-year-old boy

Police, fire charity hockey game scores big for 9-year-old

By Rick Pfeiffer
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — When Nicole Schroeder walked up to the doors of the Hyde Park Ice Pavilion, she couldn’t believe her eyes.

“I couldn’t believe what I saw,” she said. “The line (of people waiting to get into the pavilion) was out the door. I was speechless.”

The crowd had come out to watch Falls police and firefighters face off in their annual charity hockey game. The proceeds of the game were going to benefit Schroeder’s son, Jack.

“I couldn’t believe everything (the police, firefighters and community) were doing for us,” Schroeder said. “To see everyone there, coming together (to help), I don’t know what to say.”

Jack Schroeder, just 9 years old, has faced more than his fair share of challenges in life. He was diagnosed with severe autism when he was just 18 months old and then was just recently diagnosed with Type 1 juvenile diabetes. 

The dual disabilities 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. 

One solution to make Jack safer was to get him a diabetic alert dog. The pup is specially trained to smell blood sugar fluctuations and to alert whenever there’s a problem. 

Jack’s parents took the leap of faith to find a puppy, that their son named Lucy, and send her off for diabetic alert training. Then they had to figure out how’d they pay for the $18,000 cost of that training.

Months of fundraising had brought them to within $4,100 of their goal. And that’s when the firefighters and cops stepped in. 

They designated “A Dog for Jack” as their charity of choice for the 2014 Police vs Fire Hockey Game and set out to make sure the Schroeders would make their fund raising goal.

When the final horn sounded after the March 29 contest, the police had a 5-3 victory over the firefighters and the Schroeders had more than enough to cover the cost of bringing Lucy home to Jack.

“We’re all set now,” Nicole Schroeder said. “We’ve got everything we need.”

Hitting the Schroeder’s funding goal was exactly what the city cops and firefighters had hoped to do,

“Yeah, It was great,” Falls Police Tom Arist said. “That was the goal. When we counted the money (after the game) and we found out that put them over the top, it was just great.”

Arist, who captains the police hockey team, said this year’s game broke all the previous records.

“This year was, by far, the biggest crowd we’ve ever had,” he said. “And, by far, the most money we’re ever raised.”

Arist praised the firefighters and police officers who played in the game and who helped handle the door, concessions and so much more.

“(The game) is a lot of work, there’s a lot that goes into it,” he said. “But when you see the gratefulness (of the Schroeders), that’s what it’s all about.”