14th Annual Mooseheads DND Appreciation Night set for November 17
By Ryan Melanson,
The Halifax Mooseheads are once again ready to join forces with the local defence community for a special game in support of Camp Hill Veterans’ Memorial Hospital. This year’s DND Appreciation Night at Scotiabank Centre takes place on Friday, November 17, and tickets for DND members are on sale now for only $10.
The annual partnership between DND, PSP Halifax, the Mooseheads, and Camp Hill has been a popular event for the defence community since the inaugural game in 2004, allowing DND military and civilian members the chance to catch a game at a reduced price, while also raising money for the veterans. To date, the efforts have brought in more than $150,000, which has mainly been used for maintenance and upgrades to the hospital’s Veterans’ Memorial Garden.
For LS(ret’d) Rob Keough, who’s volunteered his time to sell raffle tickets for jersey draws at each game since 2004, the event has become an important and meaningful highlight of the year.
“It’s something I look forward to doing every year and I make sure my schedule is clear no matter what night it falls on,” said Keough, who has single-handedly raised more than 25,000 through raffle ticket sales. He was honoured for his contributions with a personalized jersey at the CFB Halifax Sports Recognition Breakfast in 2016.
“I had two grandfathers in the Second World War, which was the whole reason I got into the service. To be able to attach myself to a fundraiser like this, one that also means so much to me personally and helps veterans like my grandparents, it really gives me a sense of accomplishment and duty,” he said.
The donations from the game have been crucial to maintaining and improving the Memorial Garden at Camp Hill. Money comes from raffle tickets, as well as from the special jerseys that are auctioned off following the game, and it all amounts to much-needed funds, said Heather White, Camp Hill’s director of Veterans Services’ and Geriatrics. In recent years, work has been done on the garden’s walkway, along with extensive landscaping to make the area more sustainable.
“We rely heavily on the fundraising efforts of those in our community, and there’s no question the jersey auction is one of our most significant fundraisers toward that. We’re very grateful for the support from the Canadian Armed Forces and from the Mooseheads and what it’s allowed us to do with the garden,” she said.
There are a number of hockey fans among the veterans that call Camp Hill home, and some are able to make it to the game each year and have even stood in for the ceremonial puck drop. For those who can’t attend, Camp Hill keeps a game-worn Jonathan Drouin jersey mounted in the lobby of the hospital from the 2013 edition of the game, which was donated by Hon Capt(N) Fred George, and they recently doubled their collection of jerseys after PSP Halifax presented the hospital with a special edition from last season’s game. The new jersey features the number 100 on the back, celebrating Camp Hill’s 100th anniversary this year, and also includes the hospital’s crest as part of the design.
“The veterans were thrilled with that, and we’re in the process now of getting it framed to be hung in the lobby because they like to see the jerseys on the wall,” White said.
For the Mooseheads organization, the partnership has been a no-brainer since day one, and welcoming the many currently serving CAF members into the Scotiabank Centre, while also raising money to help veterans, is something the team is proud to do every season.
“We love having them here and we want to spread that message of the sacrifice and commitments that the members make for our country,” said Brian Urquhart, the Mooseheads’ VP of Business Operations.
This year’s game is set for 7 p.m. on November 17 against the Saint John Sea Dogs, and the DND-priced tickets can be purchased at any PSP Fitness, Sports and Recreation centre.
LS(ret’d) Keough will be there as always, selling raffle tickets in the skybox and gunning for another year as the top seller. Last season was his first game since releasing from the CAF, but he said he has no plans to stop. He’s also begun using the game, and its support for Camp Hill, to explain the importance of honouring service and sacrifice to his 10-year-old son.
“Those veterans at the hospital are some of the people who made it possible for us to even be here today and go enjoy a hockey game. We can’t forget that and we need to pass that on to our young people,” he said.