|Jagr Bugaski stands outside of the Red Wings' locker room at Joe Louis Arena. |
– For a child with dreams of being a professional ice hockey player, a recent day at Joe Louis Arena was exceptionally inspiring.
Thanks to the Detroit Red Wings, Warrior Hockey and The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit, Jagr Bugaski, 11, experienced every hockey fan’s dream on July 14 – ice time at Joe Louis Arena and coaching from former player Jiri Fischer (now director of player development) and current player Darren McCarty.
“He’s doing good. He’s got the spunk. He’s got the determination. That’s what it’s all about,” McCarty said, watching Jagr skate on the ice from the players’ bench.
The Red Wings donated a scholarship for Jagr to attend the organization’s 2009 Youth Hockey Camp July 13-14, sponsored by Warrior Hockey.
In addition, Warrior Hockey donated Jagr’s equipment, excluding skates and a helmet.
“We got him outfitted in complete Warrior gear,” said Jason Reynolds, the company’s regional brand representative. “When we gave it all to him, you could tell he was trying to contain his excitement.”
The Salvation Army received a $15,000 grant from the Detroit Red Wings Foundation earlier this year to help fund the nonprofit’s STRIVE (Student Training for Integrity, Vitality, and Education) Youth Hockey program.
Jagr, a Westland resident, first discovered hockey while attending STRIVE last spring, at The Salvation Army’s Wayne-Westland location. Hockey soon became his passion.
The STRIVE mission is to help meet the spiritual, mental and physical needs of the whole child through an organized floor hockey program at The Salvation Army’s participating community centers. This allows children like Jagr the chance to experience a sport they may not previously have considered, often due to economic constraints.
Hiding under a long, sweaty mop of golden blond hair, Jagr worked the ice with his fellow camp-goers July 14, then got an exclusive tour of the Red Wings’ locker room.
Prior to his two-day stint on the Joe’s ice, he had no more than four hours of actual ice time. Jagr played just 16 weeks of floor hockey at The Salvation Army’s Wayne-Westland Corps. The STRIVE team is run by Andrew Barylski, director of community and youth ministries.
“Jagr’s two-day adventure with the Detroit Red Wings is a perfect example of what can happen when programs like STRIVE help kids discover their passion. We’re beyond thankful that the Red Wings and Warrior Hockey were kind enough to give him that experience,” Barylski said.
Fall STRIVE hockey begins in late September. To register for the Wayne-Westland team, call 734-722-3660. For another center, visit salmich.org
STRIVE is a grass roots effort to not only provide children new opportunities, but also to partner with community members to grow the sport of hockey.
Founded by William Booth in London, England in 1865, The Salvation Army is a faith-based, non-profit organization dedicated to serving people in need without discrimination. In 2008, The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit was involved in providing more than 3 million meals and 776,973 nights of shelter for the homeless. The Salvation Army uses $.83 of every dollar raised to provide direct services to people in need each and every day of the year. For more information about The Salvation Army, please call 877-SAL-MICH, or visit us at salmich.org.