Harlem youth hockey program scores $25K in new gear thanks to city boy paying it forward
A good deed by Upper West Side resident Dylan Gallagher, 12, resulted in Ice Hockey in Harlem landing new sticks, helmets and skates.
What started out as a small equipment drive for underprivileged hockey players turned into Christmas coming early for a Harlem-based youth hockey program.
Upper West Side resident and youth hockey player Dylan Gallagher, 12, was looking to pay it forward as part of his bar mitzvah project. He started an equipment drive for Ice Hockey in Harlem (IHIH) with his family, friends and teammates on the North Jersey Avalanche, which is based in Hackensack.
“I wanted to give back to my community, and I thought this would be the perfect organization for me,” he told Metro.
Through the power of social media, ice hockey equipment manufacturer CCM got wind of Gallagher’s good deed and wanted to help. On Wednesday, the company donated $25,000 worth of brand-new helmets, skates and sticks to the organization.
“To get CCM to come give Ice Hockey in Harlem an early Christmas present, I’m just shocked,” Gallagher said. “We never thought it would come to this,” his dad, Rich, added.
They weren’t the only ones. Gallagher, his family, CCM representatives, former New York Ranger and current NHL analyst Ron Duguay and IHIH Executive Director John Sanful presented the new gear to many surprised kids from IHIH at the Lasker Rink in northern Central Park before the group’s practice.
“Hockey is such an expensive sport, and we work with kids who come from economically disadvantaged households, so this is going to be a huge boost for us,” Sanful said. “We share a lot of things, and this is actually going to give us the opportunity for kids to hold onto or keep their own stick. When you have something, you really understand the value of it.”
Founded in 1987, IHIH currently has 245 kids, 30 percent of them girls, in its program. The players range in age from 5 to 18.
Almost since its beginning, the Rangers have been involved with IHIH, with many team members past and present appearing on the organization’s home ice in Central Park over the years.
“I do a lot of events with IHIH,” Duguay said. He grew up playing hockey in his native Canada, “when it was easy and inexpensive,” he added. “Because of all the fun I’ve been through playing hockey, to see a child not be able to play because they can’t afford it, that’s sad.
“If I can be part of something where they can do it where it’s very inexpensive for them and just requires their time and willing to want to do it, I’m all for that.”
To further encourage other young hockey players to pay it forward, CCM created its social media campaign, CCM Assists, last year.
“It was a way for them to galvanize members of the community to do good deeds during the holidays,” company representative Sandra Carreon-John said.
For the month of December, CCM will monitor youth players who post about good deeds using #CCMAssists. In January, the company will pick five kids who will have the chance to earn new hockey sticks for their team or a team of their choice.
But for now, CCM’s donation to IHIH is not something Gallagher or his family will soon forget being a part of.
“The important thing is the lesson Dylan’s learning from this,” his mother, Jodi, said. “From one little thing he did, all of this greatness comes. The lesson in giving is you pay it forward. CCM assisting in his good deed is an amazing lesson for him to learn."