The Saint Joseph Ice Hockey program is one filled with tradition. Perhaps there is no greater one than the team’s annual fundraiser to support a local charity.
The 2022/2023 fundraiser took the culture of service and formation to new heights.
In support of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, the Saint Joe’s hockey team raised $21,185 over the course of the season, exceeding all goals and previous donations combined.
“Tunnel to Towers is such a worthy cause,” Saint Joseph ice hockey coach and Director of Athletics Ryan Carter ‘91 said. “That’s more money than we’ve ever raised in one shot. I think there is some self satisfaction because a lot of people said we couldn’t raise $10,000, but we doubled it.”
A retired New York/New Jersey Port Authority police officer, Carter saw the Tunnel to Towers Foundation as an opportunity to support an organization that many people can relate to.
“Tunnel to Towers is an organization that anyone can get behind,” Carter said. “They’ve proven that the money they take in, the vast majority, if not all of it, goes to people that served this country and paid the ultimate sacrifice for. It’s just a cause that everyone can get behind.”
Throughout the 2022-2023 season, the team hosted three charity hockey games, with teams from across the New York/New Jersey area that were impacted in some way by the 9/11 tragedy. Saint Joe’s hosted the Port Authority Police Department and Edison Fire Department game in the Fall, followed by a Falcons Alumni Team taking on the New Jersey State Police and New Jersey Devils Alumni. The final game took place in early February when the Saint Joe’s varsity squad took on the Xavier High School Knights, who come from a Manhattan prep school that sits less than three miles from the World Trade Center.
“I was proud of what we did because what we were able to do was mobilize a lot of people - people that I knew, people that I didn’t know, people that the kids and the school know,” Carter said. “It caused people to reflect and think about what happened on September 11, 2001. It gave us a great learning opportunity, where 9/11 is a page in a book for them. This fundraiser brought it to life.”
On April 26, Carter took the hockey team and their families on an excursion, reminiscent of the one that many people took for the final time on September 11, 2001.
With views of Lower Manhattan and the Freedom Tower in the background as the bus approached the Holland Tunnel, Carter reminded his team of the historical context of their bus ride and how the day will be filled with many emotions.
“On that day, we went into Manhattan to the World Trade Center by bus,” Carter said. “We sat in traffic. We were running late to get there. So much of that correlates to September 11, 2001. I think the message was, ‘You took the path that so many people took that day that never came back.’ That was a moment where they could look at that, think about that, reflect on that and start to understand the moment in time that it was.”
Once the bus arrived at the World Trade Center, the team presented a check to retired FDNY Captain John Martorano, a representative of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation. Martorano spent his career as a New York City firefighter and was a part of the 9/11 rescue team before retiring and becoming a volunteer for the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
Following the check presentation and a tour around the grounds, the team headed down to the 9/11 Memorial Museum where they experienced recollections of the tragedy that occurred throughout New York City, Washington D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
As Carter watched his team take in the sights and sounds of the museum, he couldn’t help but think about the lifelong impact this fundraiser will have on his program.
“We have a better program when we have better people,” Carter said. “I think that this exercise, this fundraiser made everybody involved, everybody that donated a better person. It caused them to think about something so tragic and it was a great lesson for them. It made all of us better people, therefore we have a better program because of it.”