Story by Sgt. Moriah Addington, 38th Sustainment Brigade
FORT WAYNE, Ind. - During the Fort Wayne Komets hockey game on April 17, the Komets presented a check to the Indiana National Guard Relief Fund for $9,077.00.
Following the opening ceremony, national anthem and team awards presentations, the Komets’ mascot, Icey, walked out onto the ice with a giant check and presented the check to Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, the adjutant general for the Indiana National Guard, and Master Sgt. Steven Kingsley, of the 38th Sustainment Brigade.
"I am grateful to the Fort Wayne Komets for their generous donation to the Indiana National Guard Relief Fund. I was honored to represent the Soldiers and Airmen in front of the patriot citizens of Fort Wayne who have provided great support of the Indiana National Guard," commented Maj. Gen. Umbarger.
The Komets raised money through a silent auction during the U.S. Army Jersey Night game on March 19. The Army donated special jerseys for the occasion and the team auctioned off each of the jerseys worn. The players signed their own jerseys for the winner, complete with certificate of authenticity.
U.S. Army Jersey Night was started by the active Army to provide the opportunity for military personnel and their families to enjoy an evening with the Komets. The Komets donate the proceeds from the auctioned jerseys to charity, this year the Indiana National Guard Relief Fund.
Kingsley has been actively involved with the Komets over the past 5 years. When he returned from a deployment overseas in 2005, he spoke with Blake Sebring, a sports writer in Fort Wayne, regarding soldier care while in theatre. Blake felt Soldiers who put their lives on the line every day should not have to pay for supplies.
Blake established the Komets Kare Package program, a tradition at each of the Komets’ home games. Kingsley along with Staff Sgt. Mark Boner have continued the care package program the last four years.
The team encourages fans to bring donations to drop-off areas where items such as toothpaste, books and magazines could be donated and sent to the Soldiers deployed overseas. In previous years the program was supported by the 293rd Infantry and 338th Quartermaster units based out of Fort Wayne. This year the care packages were delivered to the Kokomo-based organization, Hoosiers Helping Heroes.
“Staff Sgt. Boner is currently deployed. He was not able to help out this year but took a Komets flag with him,” said Kingsley. “The Komets are very important to him. He has also been a recipient of the care packages.”
This year the Komets called Kingsley to assist in Jersey Night. In previous years the auctioned money was donated to the Wounded Warrior program and when asked by the Komets this year for a charity, Kingsley suggested the Indiana National Guard Relief Fund.
“Komets wanted to know what they could do locally for the money to stay in the state and help Indiana Soldiers,” said Kingsley. “The Indiana National Guard was the one that helps Guardsmen in the state.”
The Indiana National Guard Relief Fund is a private, non-profit, tax exempt corporation that provides financial grants to Indiana Guardsmen and their families who have encountered difficult situations due to service members being mobilized, or in times of financial hardship. The Indiana National Guard Relief Fund, Inc., was started in 2003 in conjunction with the Adjutant General of Indiana.
“It is a good program and I wish that we could do one for the Guard,” said Kingsely referring to Jersey Night.
The money raised at the Komets game will help fund grants to support Indiana National Guard Soldiers and Airmen in need.