First-responders played key role in fundraiser hockey game for Living & Learning Enrichment Center
Livonia, Farmington Hills firefighters/paramedics among those saving/shooting pucks one day, saving lives the next
Less than 24 hours after they were skating for a good cause in the inaugural Hockey Hearts & Heroes fundraising game Sept. 29 at Plymouth’s USA Hockey Arena, local first-responders Dana Timm and Jennifer Chesney were back doing what they do best: saving lives.
Both firefighters/paramedics — Timm works for the Livonia Fire Department, Chesney for the Farmington Hills Fire Department — the duo’s passion for hockey (and first line-caliber skill level) was on display against a team of Detroit Red Wings alumni in a game organized to benefit Northville’s Living & Learning Enrichment Center.
Although their contingent of fellow first-responders, frontline workers and public servants (Westland Mayor Bill Wild and Livonia City Councilman Brandon McCullough) dropped a 10-5 decision to the Wings, the experience was amazing, Timm and Chesney agreed.
“I started following the Red Wings — and hockey in general — in 1995-96, which is when I started playing street hockey on inline skates,” said Timm, who served as one of the Heroes’ two goaltenders. “So to be able to actually play against some of the Red Wings legends who I grew up watching, it’s really exciting.”
A native of Southgate, Timm played Division 1 college hockey for one season at Robert Morris University before excelling for three years at Adrian College.
“I’ve been playing hockey for 20 years now and this is my first charity game, so I’m definitely pumped up,” Timm added.
Chesney, a right-winger, started skating at the age of 3 and played travel hockey until she was 16, so competing against the ex-Red Wings was icing on her blue line-loving cake.
“When Dana reached out to me to play, I said absolutely,” Chesney said. “What a great opportunity. I haven’t played since before COVID, so I’m a little rusty, but it’s still exciting.”
One of Chesney’s hockey-related claims to fame was playing on the same youth team as one of Steve Yzerman’s daughters.
“I still have a hockey stick signed by Steve Yzerman from back in the day,” said Chesney, smiling.
Timm and Chesney were half of a quartet of female participants for the Heroes. Birdie Ball served as the coach and Anastazia Hartman (wearing Gordie Howe’s No. 9) was a forward.
The first-responders not only volunteered to play in the game, they each made a donation to the Living & Learning Enrichment Center.
“This is really a great cause,” said Wild, who has been playing hockey for as long as he can remember. “We’ve hosted a charity game against the Red Wings alumni team for 10 years in Westland, so I jump at the chance to play in these games whenever I’m asked.
“Some of these guys we’re playing against — John Ogrodnick, Mickey Redmond — I watched when I was growing up. They have some younger legs out here tonight — Mathieu Dandenault, Jason Wooley and Drew Miller — so we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
The Heroes’ roster consisted of 17 players: Canton firefighters/paramedics Zachary Sprys-Tellner, Jake Laird and Ryan Kerry; Trenton police officers Kris Wilson and Steve Lyons; Garden City police officers Jacob Berkowitz and Kevin Swope; Dearborn Heights firefighters/paramedics Brad Nash and Stefano Dedonatis; Southgate firefighter/paramedic Adam Schwier; Westland detective Jasson Brassfield; Livonia GE Healthcare’s Dale Schopper; along with Timm, Chesney, Hartman, Wild and McCullough.
The USA Hockey Arena was buzzing with excitement hours before the game, during the entertaining contest and throughout an after-game get-together.
“This event not only served as a nice fundraiser for the Living & Learning Enrichment Center, it brought awareness to the amazing programs the center offers,” said Jim Harb, who helped coordinate the event.
Funds were raised from ticket sales, a 50/50 raffle and a jaw-dropping silent auction that included autographed hockey jerseys and a mix of unique sports paraphernalia.
Harb said the silent auction item that raised the most money was an image of Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay that was signed by both Red Wings legends.