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Helm's Heroes help young players

by Craig Peterson / Detroit Red Wings
Forward Darren Helm donates a set of tickets to each home game through the Red Wings Foundation to a youth hockey player with some form of medical condition. (Photo by Christy Hammond/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT — From one hockey player to another.

Red Wings center Darren Helm donates a set of tickets to each home game through the Detroit Red Wings Foundation to a local youth hockey player with some form of medical condition.

In one form or another, the mites, squirts and peewee-aged guests have had the game taken away from them due to a medical limitation. While Helm can relate in a limited aspect in terms of what it is like to be taken away from the game — having missed 87 games during that past three regular seasons — he said he couldn’t imagine what it would be like to experience that hardship at such a young age due to circumstances out of their control.

“These kids that are growing up, a lot of them are playing hockey and all of a sudden something happens and they can’t do what they love anymore,” Helm said. “It’s important that as players, we try to give back and that was one of the things that I thought was a pretty good cause.”

Helm’s gesture isn’t unusual, as several Wings donate a set of ticket to home games for one reason or another. His cause, however, is unique in that it incorporates fellow hockey players. An unspoken bond shared through the game they both love, Helm provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to young hockey players that they will cherish forever through his player initiative called Helm’s Heroes.

“I think most of the time, most of the kids I’ve met were just so excited to be down here and happy to be down here,” Helm said. “It’s strange for me to be calling them kids, I feel like I just got out of high school myself, feel like I’m still a kid at heart.”

At 27 years old, Helm is long removed from his adolescent years but his young spirit helps him interact and relate with his guests.

Being fellow hockey players, there’s certainly a moment of awe for Helm’s guests when they get the exclusive opportunity to come down to the Wings locker room and visit the Winnipeg native. Seeing the historic names on the walls and classic, black-and-white photos in the hallways is like a religious experience for any kid who’s ever laced up a pair of skates.

Honored to share the experience with a fellow hockey player, knowing that it will mean so much to his guests, Helm just wants them to enjoy the experience at Joe Louis Arena.

“Just (have) a good time,” he said. “Kind of forget about what’s going on and have some fun, be at a game and just enjoy themselves.”

Shouldn’t be too hard for these youth skaters.

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