DETROIT – Miss hockey? Miss the Red Wings?
Carhartt, America’s prime work wear brand for more than 120 years, hopes to fill some of that void – for at least one night – when its employees challenge the Red Wings Alumni in a charity game this Friday at the Dearborn Ice Skating Center.
Originally born from the last NHL work stoppage, the eighth annual game will benefit Detroit area children and adults with disabilities served by the Macomb-Oakland Regional Center (MORC), a human services agency based in Clinton Township and Auburn Hills.
“It was during the last lockout and we had rented The Joe for a company skate,” said John Pepera, one of the event’s organizers. “We just had fun with it with Carhartt people playing hockey for about an hour. It was just a fun night out. … The next year we wanted to do something more with a charity game. Now it’s lockout time again and we want to get more people out.”
The annual Carhartt game has raised approximately $45,500 to help MORC purchase food, personal care items, linens, gift cards and clothing for people with disabilities at Christmastime.
“I’m looking for a huge crowd. It really is for a great cause,” Pepera said. “The state only gives these families like $400 a month, and $400 is supposed to pay for prescriptions and help put food on the table, and anything else they may need. Try to live on $400 a month, you know?”
Carhartt and its 4,400 employees worldwide have always been quite generous as it relates to community involvement, which is evident in their campaigns to rush supplies and products to victims of Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Irene, as well as year-round engagements with Detroit area charities such as Gleaners Community Food Bank, Capuchin Soup Kitchen, Motor City Blight Busters, and Forgotten Harvest.
“It’s so important for us to be involved in community action and community outreach,” said Erica Salomon, Carhartt’s communications manager. “It’s part of who we are culturally, and who we as a company, so we’re beyond excited to take part in this hockey game for another year.”
The hockey game is Carhartt’s largest annual fundraising event, Salomon said.
Known as the Wolf Pack, Carhartt’s team is comprised of employees, spouses and corporate customers of varying skill levels. Among the pros expected to play are former Red Wings Mickey Redmond, Paul Ysebaert, Dennis Hextall, John Ogrodnick, Eddie Mio, and Josh Langfeld, along with ex-NHLers Bryan Smolinski, Pat Peake, Dan Newman, and Craig Wolanin.
Pepera, who is a technical support analyst at Carhartt’s Dearborn world headquarters, is the Wolf Pack’s former goalie, who occasionally used to practice with the Wings alumni at Joe Louis Arena. Even though some alums are showing their age, he said, amateur teams shouldn’t press their luck.
“It’s like watching the Harlem Globetrotters when they start cycling the puck around,” said Pepera, 50. “It drives you nuts as a goalie because it’s got you going back and forth, back and forth.
“It’s really just incredible when you’re on ice with these guys. No matter what age they are you still see the talent that they have.”
The charity game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tickets are free for MORC members with disabilities and their caregivers or family members. General public tickets are $10 at the door.
MORC serves 5,000 people with disabilities in Wayne, Macomb and Oakland counties. For more information about MORC, contact them at 586-263-8757 or visit morcinc.org.
Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose