Equipment donation benefits hockey leagues, veterans

Quiet KnightWhat started out as an accident will benefit area veterans, as well as children and adults in the Thunder Hockey Association at Trine University.

Some time ago, a semi truck full of brand-new hockey equipment overturned in Michigan. The insurance company reimbursed the vendor for the equipment and took possession of it, later selling the lot of equipment at auction.

The equipment, much of it with tags still on it, sat unused in a warehouse until the purchaser approached Brian Lamm, president and CEO of Quiet Knight, Inc., an Auburn-based nonprofit that provides aid to northeast Indiana veterans when other avenues of support are exhausted, or when the need is too immediate for normal channels to help.

“I was actually at the American Legion in Butler, Indiana, and one of their members asked me if we took donations. And I said, ‘Absolutely, we’re always looking for donations,’ ” Lamm recalled. “At that point he says, ‘Okay I’ve got something for you, and I’ll meet you at this warehouse on Saturday.’

“So I show up at the warehouse and we see literally a truckload of ice hockey equipment there. And he said, ‘I got this a few years back and I have no need for it any more. Take it off my hands.’ And so we did.”

Shortly thereafter, Amy Alt, youth hockey program director at Trine University, heard about the equipment from a contact at the YMCA of DeKalb County. She contacted Lamm and told him about plans to start youth and adult hockey leagues in Trine’s Thunder Ice Arena. Eventually, the university and Quiet Knight arranged an in-kind donation of the equipment, which includes adult sizes as well as youth.

“I figured this would be a perfect fit,” Lamm said. “I’ve got a whole truckload of ice hockey equipment and she’s starting a brand-new program; she’s going to need ice hockey equipment.”

“There are a lot of adults interested in playing hockey in the area who have come to me during the time I’ve been here,” Alt said. “We are going to start with drop-in and stick and puck, and then we’ll have a learn to play and we would like to get an adult league happening in the new year.”

In return, the university will donate to Quiet Knight to assist with the upcoming opening of a veterans’ shelter in Waterloo and to help provide a new roof for a facility in Butler.

For Alt, the opportunity to benefit veterans as well as the hockey association was especially meaningful. Her mother served in the Air Force and Air National Guard for 30 years, including tours in Desert Storm and Desert Shield, and her father served in the Army. Other extended family members also have served in the military, with a number buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis.

“I know what a military family goes through,” she said. “I know how support is needed to protect our country. This opportunity is more than just helping a nonprofit; it’s having pride in your country and bettering a life.”

Alt hopes to partner with Quiet Knight on several events for veterans over the next year. The Thunder Ice Arena even has sleds that disabled veterans can use to get out on the ice.

The arena will host a Celebrate Our Veterans Skate on Nov. 12, the day after Veterans Day. All veterans and those currently serving in the military can skate free at this event. For more information, call (260) 665-4325 or email alta@trine.edu.

For more information on Quiet Knight, visit quietknight.org.

Photos: Top, Gale Mapes of LaGrange outfits his grandson, Brendan Mapes, 7, with free hockey equipment provided by the Thunder Hockey Association, donated to the program by Quiet Knight, Inc., during an equipment distribution on Oct. 30. Bottom, from left, Christopher Lamm, chief financial officer and treasurer of Quiet Knight, Inc., Amy Alt, youth hockey program director at Trine University, and Brian Lamm, president and CEO of Quiet Knight, stand with some of the equipment Quiet Knight donated from Trine’s community hockey programs. (Photos by Dean Orewiler)