Inaugural Steel City Fire on Ice Charity Classic Benefiting the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation a Success in More Ways than One

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Greater Pittsburgh area firefighters competed with Johnstown, PA, firefighters in the inaugural Steel City Fire on Ice Charity Classic on June 25 in Pittsburgh. Proceeds will support the mission of the national nonprofit Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation to raise awareness and help save lives threatened by sudden cardiac arrest.

Greater Pittsburgh firefighters and Johnstown, PA, firefighters at the first annual Steel City Fire on Ice charity hockey game

Greater Pittsburgh firefighters and Johnstown, PA, firefighters at the first annual Steel City Fire on Ice charity hockey game

Any time you get to play hockey is exciting, but when it's for a great cause, it's even better.

Pittsburgh is a sports town where professional hockey is revered--now more than ever--since the Pittsburgh Penguins became the 2016 Stanley Cup champions. But there is another kind of hockey in town--the kind that thrives on competition, camaraderie and good works. That is the kind of game seen by about 200 supporters at the first annual Steel City Fire on Ice Charity Classic at the Robert Morris University Island Sport’s Center in Pittsburgh. The event, the brainchild of Greater Pittsburgh area firefighters Nick Gerstel, Dennis Dunmire and Glen Eger, pitted a team comprised of members from several Western Pennsylvania community fire departments against their counterparts from Johnstown, PA, for the benefit of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation.

The veteran Johnstown squad won the game 10-4 over the Greater Pittsburgh Pipemen, which was making its debut as a team. But the real winner was the Foundation, which will use proceeds from the game to boost awareness of the need for widespread CPR training and deployment of automated external defibrillators.

Dunmire called the game “competitive, but not too edgy,” referring to a lack of hard checking and fights that are so much a part of the sport, adding that “any time you get the chance to play hockey is exciting, but when it’s for a great cause it’s even better.”

Other highlights were Jennifer Jackson’s stirring rendition of the National Anthem and an inspirational address by KDKA TV new anchor and Foundation national spokesperson, Susan Koeppen, a sudden cardiac arrest survivor.

Prior to the game, the Foundation held a meeting aimed at cultivating a community of area survivors, family members, and other advocates interested in working together at a local level to help save more lives. One of the participants, an employee of the RMU Island Sports Center, was playing hockey at the center several years ago and was resuscitated from sudden cardiac arrest, thanks to CPR and use of the rink's AED.

Foundation president Mary Newman said she was amazed at the way the game brought the community together. “The first annual Steel City Fire on Ice charity hockey game was a tremendous success not only in raising funds, but also in raising awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and the simple things anyone can do to save a life. This was all made possible by the hard work and dedication of the Greater Pittsburgh area firefighters, and the contributions of sponsors, donors and volunteers.”

About the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation
The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation is a national community benefit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to raising awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and saving lives. Programs include educational campaigns for secondary schools and colleges and the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Network, an online community that provides peer support and opportunities for survivors and family members to participate in awareness, advocacy, and research initiatives.

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A.J. Caliendo
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