Utica, NY - The suspensions of the AHL and the MASL seasons and cancellation of collegiate hockey playoffs, has halted traffic coming into the Adirondack Bank Center, until today. For the first time in about a month, fans are walking back into the arena but it's not to watch a game, it's to give back.
“It's so great to be back in the building. Our season ticket seats are straight above so to be able to look at the seats and to be in the building is always great,” says Pamela Maring, a Comets season ticket holder.
The four New York state American Hockey League teams: the Binghamton Devils, Rochester Americans, the Syracuse Crunch and the Utica Comets have joined forces as part of the New York Hockey Gives Blood Initiative.
In a partnership with the American Red Cross, each team has set up a blood drive in their city where players, coaches, fans and anyone can donate blood to help the state maintain its blood supply for hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.
Comets’ President Robert Esche, head coach Trent Cull and Utica College Men’s Hockey head coach, Gary Heenan were among those who donated.
Last month, the Utica Comets created "Puck the Virus" t-shirts to fundraise for their part-time employees who were financially affected by the suspension of the season. David Beauharnois who donated blood is one of them.
“It's great,” says Beauharnois, “We're not owned by this massive organization so it's great that they're doing something to help make sure people are still getting paid. I was just talking how it's kind of sad that we're missing out on these games. I keep getting the calendar alerts on my phone.”
While the coronavirus has forced some blood drives to be cancelled, the New York Hockey Gives Blood Initiative also keeps people employed and active like Andy Meacham, a volunteer truck driver for the Red Cross.
“My job is I pick up the blood at blood drives throughout Central New York and I take all the blood out to the process center in West Henrietta. I normally volunteer about 3 to 4 days a week so some weeks (because of coronavirus) I only work one day," says Meacham.
As part of the experience, Utica area residents who donated also received a Comets pin as a thank you for their contribution.
Visit redcrossblood.org if you missed today’s drive and would like to donate.