The Kingswood Oxford boys ice hockey team will host Kingswood Oxford School Ryan Gordon '05 Hockey Night on Friday night at the International Skating Center in Simsbury.
The Wyverns face off against Hamden Hall with the puck dropping at 7:00 p.m.
The event, which is in its 18th season, is a fundraiser for Team Tobati and since 2006, Hockey Night has been named and played in honor of Ryan Gordon ’05.
"Hockey Night has always been an electric environment for a high school game with great school spirit and Wyvern Pride," Kingswood Oxford athletic director Deb Fiske said. “It’s an event the entire school rallies around and it is awesome to see everyone unite at a sporting event cheering on classmates."
Hockey Night was started in 2000 by Spanish teacher Ron Garcia, founder of Team Tobati, and then-Boys’ Hockey Coach John Riley. Coach Riley had chaperoned a number of Team Tobati trips and wanted to help find a way to raise money for the cause. Since its inception, Hockey Night has raised over $80,000 for Team Tobati, from the sale of tickets, concessions, and Hockey Night merchandise.
"Hockey night has been a wonderful tradition over the past twenty years where sports and charity come together to form a wonderful night. It has been a lot of fun for Team Tobati and the hockey program to partner together,” Garcia said. “We raise money for the poor of Tobati, Paraguay and also come together a community to root for our hockey team. It is without a doubt my favorite night of the year.”
Team Tobati is an all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged youth in Tobati, Paraguay, while at the same time offering hundreds of high school students from the United States the powerful experience of working directly for a greater good in the developing world.
With the active support of Tobati community leaders and organizations, the team constructs classrooms and schools, funds important social programs, and supports medical services and initiatives.
Each March, over 100 students, faculty, staff, and alums from Kingswood Oxford spend two weeks in Tobati working extensively on dozens of projects, which strengthen the medical and educational infrastructure offered to the region’s poor. But, the job is not limited to those two weeks. Team Tobati’s aid to the region is a year-round effort, financing significant development projects that make improvements in all areas of community life.
The Team’s mission is exemplified by the Macchi School. This institution, 100% funded by the Team, provides the best education in the state of Cordillera, Paraguay, and does so exclusively for the poorest students in the region. Today, a number of Macchi School graduates are attending college in the United States.
“It’s been tremendous to see so many people over the years help me help the community where my mom is from," Garcia said. "It’s very humbling and inspiring.”
Ryan Gordon was born with VATER Syndrome, a group of birth defects that included a severely affected esophagus, which led to chronic lung disease but Ryan never let his health issues stand in his way. Even after over 40 procedures, he continued pursuing the activities he loved, including golf, managing the KO hockey team, and broadcast journalism.
After graduating from KO with honors, Ryan pursued the last of those dreams at the University of Central Florida. Toward the end of his first semester of college, Ryan knew he was very sick and returned home, where he was hospitalized on Thanksgiving Day. It was found that Ryan had squamous cell carcinoma, which he sadly succumbed to in February 2006.
Before he passed away, Ryan made it clear that he wanted his college funds to be donated to a number of Connecticut charities that he believed had helped him throughout his life and sickness, and Ryan’s Circle of Giving was born. This organization now gives a Team Tobati scholarship each year to a KO student who would otherwise not be able to participate in this program.
The Wyverns enter Hockey Night with a record of 2-0 and are coming off an 8-0 victory over Wooster on Dec. 8.
“For the players, it has come to be the highlight of the season due to the school spirit and support they see during the course of the evening,” KO coach John Hissick said. “The ability to use it a vehicle of support for a charity like Team Tobati is just makes it more special. The things that Team Tobati has done in Paraguay have been monumental. The establishment of a hospital, a top notch prep school and college scholarship to Macchi students, both deserving and in need, is incredible.”
To learn more about Team Tobati, or to make a donation to support it, please visit www.teamtobati.org