When the Buffalo Sabres traveled to Philadelphia recently, they brought along a special guest: Verdall Cole. The Hutch Tech high school senior received the trip of a lifetime to the City of Brotherly Love, all because the generosity of an anonymous donor.
The donor won the trip last fall at a Canisius High School charity auction. In the spring, the anonymous man contacted the Sabres wishing to give the trip to “someone else who is deserving, but otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to do this.”
“My wife and I believe in being charitable and helping people in numerous different ways. It’s a part of who we are and that’s how this came about,” said the donor in an interview with Sabres.com.
The Sabres then contacted Hasek’s Heroes Executive Director Sean Green about finding a suitable candidate for the fantasy trip. Green and his staff met and unanimously decided that the 17-year-old Cole would receive the trip.
“So many times people do things for a reward, for something at the end. For the last three years, Verdall has done so many things behind the scenes: volunteering, helping out, and just being a mentor without any reward whatsoever,” said Green.
The most important thing to me is that someday he will do this for somebody else. Maybe he can’t do it the way that I did, but whether it is time or whether it is money -- or both -- just pass it along - anonymous donor
“For someone to step up and pass along something like that is just incredible.”
The donor met with Cole, Hasek’s Heroes staff members and Sabres staff at Prior Aviation before the team’s flight on February 15. Cole expressed his appreciation to the donor and talked with him about his plans to study architecture at Alfred State College.
“The most important thing to me is that someday he will do this for somebody else. Maybe he can’t do it the way that I did, but whether it is time or whether it is money -- or both -- just pass it along,” the donor said.
The anonymous man and his family own a successful Buffalo-based business. He and his family try to live by words spoken by WWII war hero and champion cyclist Gino Bartali: “Good is something you do, not something you talk about. Some medals are pinned to your soul, not your jacket.”
Green does not think the donor’s generosity will ever be lost on Cole.
“The message I think that’s sent for Vardell, which he does anyway on a smaller scale, is to continue giving back and helping people out. Now in the future, he’ll look back on this and say someone gave me an opportunity, someone gave me a chance and he’ll continue to do that for other people.” -- Mark Blaszak - Sabres.com[Gino Bartali was an Italian born Hall of Fame cyclist who used his fame to smuggle messages and documents to the Italian Resistance during World War II. Bartali's celebrity helped him avoid questioning by patrols while cycling, pulling a wagon with a secret compartment through the one time Italian Social Republic.]