The Buffalo Sabres today announced the team has partnered with Project Play Western New York. This organization helps to highlight the resources available to the youth of Western New York by providing the opportunity for local kids to be physically active in sports regardless of their age, background, gender or ability.
“The Buffalo Sabres are proud to support the very important work being done by Project Play Western New York,” said Sabres vice president of community relations Rich Jureller. “The physical and emotional benefits that play and sport provides to children are essential for their development. Through our partnership with Project Play Western New York, we hope to help create a community where all kids become lifelong participants in sport and play.”
The Sabres will kick off the partnership at their game against the Winnipeg Jets at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23, where the first 10,000 children in attendance will receive a Sabres-branded Project Play Western New York “Free Play” deck of cards. The Sabres have donated 500 tickets to the game to youth organizations that work with Project Play and Sabres captain Jack Eichel has donated his suite to the Hamburg Hawks Girls 14U team.
Prior to the start of the game, two youth hockey officials will meet the game’s officiating crew and join them on the ice for the national anthems as part of the Zebra Cares program. The game’s first intermission will feature a scrimmage between girls who have been Sabres Learn to Play participants.
Later in the game, the One Buffalo Community Award will be presented to Algonquin Sports for Kids, a Project Play Western New York partner whose mission is to use sports and mentorship to empower underserved youth in Western New York to become agents of change.
In addition to the festivities at Sunday’s game, the team has also announced plans for a “free play” zone at select youth hockey tournaments at LECOM Harborcenter for the 2020-21 season. The area, which will be funded by the Sabres Foundation, will be accessible to children attending tournaments they’re not participating in.
“We are excited about this opportunity to partner with the Sabres and expand our reach to serve more youth and families in our region,” said Bridget Niland, director of Project Play Western New York. “One of our focus areas is to reintroduce free play, and the free play zone will give children access to fun and fulfilling physical activities.”
Project Play WNY is driven and funded by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation’s youth sports and recreation focus area in partnership with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. It is a collective impact model that includes 87 individuals who are focused on ensuring all WNY kids have the opportunity to be active through sport. For more information, visit projectplaywny.org.
The Buffalo Sabres Foundation mission statement reads: To identify and support local organizations which share our core objectives: serving children and military personnel, caring for the sick, assisting physically and mentally challenged athletes, and supporting youth hockey initiatives. By utilizing financial resources and community influence, the Buffalo Sabres Foundation assists these organizations and their beneficiaries in realizing their highest potential and succeeding in their endeavors.