A year ago The American Legion Department of North Carolina teamed up with the Citadel and Virginia Military Institute to put on a charity hockey game that raised more than $6,000 for The American Legion Legacy Scholarship fund.
Legionnaire Phil Taylor, the event's primary organizer, was so happy with the 2008 results that he's doing it again this year. On Saturday, the Military Classic Of The South On Ice will take place between the Citadel and VMI hockey clubs at the Polar Ice House in Wake Forest, N.C. The game will again bring money into the fund established to provide college money for the children of active-duty U.S. servicemembers killed on or since Sept. 11, 2001.
"The two of us who were primarily responsible for organizing last year's game, myself and (Legionnaire) John Hunter, decided right after the first game that we wanted to do it again this year," said Taylor, a life member of Post 132 in Smithfield, N.C. "It's a big effort. I've probably got 500 hours invested in this myself, and John probably has close to that. But we wanted to do it at least a second year, and the boys in both (hockey) clubs wanted to do it again. We didn't want to let them down."
The goal last year was to raise $2,500. That goal has been raised significantly, Taylor said, but he admits the fundraising efforts this year have been hampered by the economy.
"We're crossing our fingers that we can match last year's total," he said. "But we do think it will be a success. And we're getting the word out about the Legacy Scholarship. Even if we don't raise as much money as we want, we're making people conscious of what the Legacy Scholarship does. A lot of them have no idea what it is."
The price of admission to the game - which is also being sponsored by the Raleigh Youth Hockey Association, Blue Ridge Hockey Conference, Polar Ice House and the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes - is $10 for adults and $5 for youth. Servicemembers in uniform will be admitted for free, as will youth hockey players wearing their team jerseys.
Items to be raffled off include a Carolina Hurricanes hockey stick signed by the team, two tickets to a Hurricanes game, three tickets to a Duke basketball game, and four tickets with a parking pass to a North Carolina State basketball game.
Tara Wheeler, 2008's Miss Virginia, also will be on hand to give goalie demonstrations. A former Air Force ROTC participant, Wheeler was the starting goalie for the Lady Icers ice hockey team while at Penn State University. She holds numerous goal-tending records and participated in the U.S. Olympic team tryouts.