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The Blue Jackets First Annual Hockey Fest A Hit

by Staff Writer / Columbus Blue Jackets
Ever want to take a slap shot on a Blue Jacket goalie?

Or throw a bean bag at a target and dunk a player?

Or get your picture taken with Jody Shelley in the Penalty Box?

Or race Sergei Fedorov in the Nascar Racing video game?

Over 2,500 Columbus Blue Jackets fans had those opportunities on Sunday, packing Nationwide Arena for the CBJ Foundation's First Annual Hockey Fest. The event raised over $92,000. All of the money raised will be granted to local non-profit organizations.

"It is a great event and it is something we really enjoy doing," Blue Jackets forward Trevor Letowski said. "It is good for the fans and to top it off, we are making money for a great cause."

Events included Locker Room tours; pictures with Blue Jackets players in the Penalty Box; a dunk tank where fans had the opportunity to hit a target with a bean bag allowing water to drench CBJ players; the opportunity to broadcast a CBJ game and take a video cassette home with your voice on the highlights; the chance to challenge your favorite CBJ players in video games; the opportunity to take a slap shot on Marc Denis and Pascal Leclaire; a silent auction of CBJ and other sports memorabilia and a live auction of 51 unbelievable items that would make any fan's collection complete.

"My favorite part of the event was racing the Nascars," Blue Jackets defenseman Duvie Westcott said. "I had a good competition going with a 16-year old girl that kept beating me.

"Actually, she was probably under 16 because she said, 'I beat you and I don't even have my license yet.' That was a little bit embarrassing but it was fun."

Letowski also enjoyed playing video games.

"I enjoyed playing Xbox the most, but some kid really took it to me a little bit and beat me, 7-2," Letowski said.

Throughout the event were four autograph sessions that allowed fans to take pictures and get autographs of their favorite Blue Jacket players, including Bryan Berard, Rostislav Klesla, Leclaire, and Manny Malhotra; Jan Hrdina, Mike Rupp, Shelley and Duvie Wescott; Jaroslav Balastik, Jason Chimera, Sergei Fedorov and Ron Hainsey; Denis, Trevor Letowski, Luke Richardson and Nikolai Zherdev.

The event lasted from 1-6 p.m., and featured giveaways, games and lots of food. On behalf of the Columbue Blue Jackets Foundation, the Columbus Blue Jackets would like to thank our guests for their incredible support of the Foundation's main pillars (pediatric cancer, children's health and safety, education, and the development of youth hockey) and remind them to mark their calendars for next year's event.

"To see kids smiling and having a good time and laughing at you when you get dunked in the dunk tank was really a lot of fun," Westcott said.

The mission of the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation is to utilize the unique resources of its professional athletes, players and coaches to improve the quality of life throughout the community. The Foundation dedicates time, resources, and financial support to organizations committed to meeting the educational, cultural, health and wellness needs of its citizens. A primary focus of the Foundation is its Stick with Kids initiative in which a strong emphasis is placed on its main pillars: the fight against pediatric cancer; the health and safety of today's youth; education, and the development of youth hockey. Since its inception in March 2000, the Foundation has awarded more than $975,000 in grants in support of local non-profit organizations that serve the Foundation's pillars of giving.
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