Pittsburghers are a special breed. They support their own in times of need, and Friday night’s charity hockey game between the Pittsburgh Police and Pittsburgh Fire departments benefitting firefighter Matt Onyshko was no exception.
A seven-year veteran of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire based out of 32 Engine & Truck in Spring Garden, Onyshko is battling ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Fans attending the contest at the CONSOL Energy Center donated an astounding $11,830 on the evening. After 84 Lumber pitched in $5,000, the total stood at over $16,000 going directly to the Onyshko family. In addition to their monetary contribution, 84 Lumber is also donating building supplies for a ramp and other necessities to be constructed at the Onyshko home.
“It’s great to see everybody supporting (Matt),” said Matt’s sister, Joanne Onyshko. “He loved being a Pittsburgh firefighter, and to see how much of a brotherhood it is and how they’re really taking care of their own, it’s great to see. It’s great to know everyone has our back.”
The policemen and firefighters that took to the ice were more than happy to do so. Although things were chippy at times, that’s hockey, and the men that keep our city safe helped to make an even larger contribution by lacing them up.
“It’s always nice to come out and play for a good cause,” said firefighter Dave Moore. “One of our brothers needs our help, so it’s nice to see a bunch of people come out and support him like this.”
“We come out here for a good cause and to raise money for one of our fellow firefighters and it’s great,” said firefighter Roy McDonald. “Nothing compares to what he’s going through, so anything we can do for (Matt), we’re happy to do it.”
Participants and family members were not only thrilled with the turnout, but also the support they received from the Penguins to publicize and put on the event.
“It’s like every kid’s dream to come on the ice and play where the Pittsburgh Penguins play,” Moore said. “We truly appreciate what the Penguins have done for us.”
“That’s awesome of the Penguins to let the people who protect their city and take care of their city play in their arena,” Joanne Onyshko said. “Even having the (video board) and all the extra things they’ve allowed us to use, it’s been great.”
Although the police got the best of the firemen on the scoresheet, the Onyshkos came away the true winners. The amount of money raised was a pleasant surprise, another fantastic showing of support from the city of Pittsburgh.
“I couldn’t believe the number when we saw that on the board,” Moore said. “It really shows you the true brotherhood in public safety overall, not just the fire department, but the police department, paramedics, all that. There’s a brotherhood there and nobody can deny that. It’s really impressive that something like this can make that kind of money and have a positive impact.”
The Onyshko family was overwhelmed with the support. From recognizable names like 84 Lumber and the Penguins, to normal, everyday Pittsburghers, all parties came together in a time of need. Just like always.
“We really appreciate everyone taking care of the family,” Joanne Onyshko said. “I know how much it means to my brother and to our whole family. It’s great to have people that really care about you and would do anything for you. We really give a heartfelt thank you.”