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Wives’ Carnival raises funds in the name of fun

by Jeremy Lemoine / Boston Bruins
Boston, MA - On Sunday, January 8, Bruins fans got up-close and personal with the team at the 16th Annual Wives’ Charity Carnival at the TD Banknorth Garden. Thousands of fans entered the Garden throughout the day to interact with the players in games, autograph sessions, and raffles. The fans even had the opportunity to tour the coveted Bruins locker room, a room full of rich tradition.

“I thought it was a really good time here,” said Chris Hall from Charlton, MA. “I brought my six year old son Zack and it was our first time. He was able to interact with the players and meet his idol, Patrice Bergeron. He got his picture taken and his autograph. They’re really down to earth guys when you get to meet them like that, and he really enjoyed himself so it’s exciting. I found it to be a great event. It benefits a great charity, and I would definitely come back again.”

All of the Bruins were on hand to ensure that fans of all ages had a great day. Fans had the opportunity to play PlayStation 2 against some of the players and challenge them head-to-head in Wayne Gretzky’s NHL 06. Patrice Bergeron, Hannu Toivonen, Sergei Samsonov, Andrew Raycroft, Brian Leetch, and Glen Murray were signing autographs, while Jordan Sigalet was in net taking shots from younger fans.

The Boston Bruins Foundation also began raffling off a team autographed 2006 Harley-Davidson XL 883 Sportster which features a Boston Bruins puck as the gas cap and a custom Bruins paint job. The winner will be picked at Fan Appreciation night on April 13th against the Montreal Canadiens.

Charlie Jacobs, Bruins Executive Vice President and Founder of the Boston Bruins Foundation, was on hand to enjoy the day’s festivities.

“It’s a wonderful tradition that was started by Sue Byrne,” said Jacobs. “We’ve had some really great carnivals and it’s a great opportunity for our fans to meet our players, interact face-to-face, get an autograph or two, and more importantly, joke around and kid around with the players. When it’s all said and done, we raise a lot of money for a great cause.

“I think it’s especially important for this year because after a year off of hockey and an absence of the game, people have an opportunity to come back and see the players first hand. It’s important for us fans, I say us because I’m a fan as well, to see our players in a different type of environment than on the ice. This gives them the opportunity to do that.

“The day you don a Bruins sweater is the day you’re inducted into the family and we look after each other and that’s what they’re doing today.”

The “family” was on full display, as Bruins legends Ray Bourque, John Bucyk, Cam Neely, and Terry O’Reilly were on hand to sign autographs and mingle with the fans.

“It’s a wonderful event,” said former Bruin Terry O’Reilly. “It began right around the time I was coaching and it’s nice how everybody in the organization, past and present, gets involved. A lot of Alumni are here and the wives do a wonderful job. Everybody wins.

“I think in order for the fans to really bond with the team and get behind them, they have to meet and greet them. This is the ideal vehicle to do that. It’s a great day and they raise a lot of money for charity, so you can’t lose.”

Hal Gill and his wife Ann are in their eighth season participating in the Bruins Wives’ Charity Carnival and have seen its impact over the years.

“It’s really great for the wives because there’s not a great deal of opportunity for us to give back to the people and fans of the Boston community,” said Ann Gill. “They give so much back to us, so it’s a lot of fun. It’s something we really enjoy doing every year and the Bruins Organization works so hard in helping us make this a success. It’s a lot of fun and we appreciate the fan support.”

This year, the Wives’ Carnival raised $200,000. Net proceeds will benefit the Neely Pediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit. This new unit will allow young patients to live with their families during their transplant in a home-like setting that is both comfortable and clinically state-of-the-art.

“The amount of money that this carnival has raised and the amount of time and effort the Bruins wives’, players, and the building staff put in is wonderful,” said Hall of Famer Cam Neely. “It’s a fantastic way to raise money for charity, no matter whom it benefits. Obviously, the Neely Foundation is very appreciative of what we receive from this event. We’re fortunate for a couple years that we have been able to get the proceeds for this event. What we’re doing over at Tufts New England Medical Center certainly is a great program we have going on over there and that’s where this money is going go to help.”
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