For most college seniors, the prospect of balancing school, work and bills is an already a daunting task.
On top of that, Keene State College Senior Andrew Gardner is doing an internship with the Swanzey Fire Department and is also raising money to participate in an event called Battle of the Badges, sponsored by Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth [CHaD].
Battle of the Badges is a hockey game in which firefighters and police officers throughout New Hampshire gather at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire to play hockey in honor of the children being treated at CHaD.
Now on its eighth year, Natalie Martinez, the community relations manager at CHaD, said the game is only growing in popularity, attendance and the amount of money that is raised. Martinez said the hockey game is played just as if it were any other game, but there is also free activities, donation boxes, a raffle and an auction to keep it entertaining for families.
“We try to make it more than just a game, but an experience too,” she said.
This will be Gardner’s second year participating in the event and he will be playing on the fire department team. By committing to play on the team, Gardner said he has also committed to attend the four mandatory practices and the game on April 11, 2015.
“It’s a fundraiser for children with medical disorders with expenses that their families can’t really afford,” Gardner, who is a safety studies major, said, “This fundraiser is really for the children.” According to Gardner, the annual event has raised over $1.2 million over the last seven years which has gone toward supporting vital programs and services at CHaD. Martinez said 100 percent of the proceeds from the event go toward CHaD.
She said something the money really helps with is the Child Life Specialists, who spend time getting to know the children who are going in for procedures to make sure they have their favorite book, game or toy in their hospital room and are as comfortable as possible.
“It’s a scary situation a lot of kids have to go through and this helps make the hospital feel more homey to them,” Martinez said.
Gardner admitted, “Balancing school, work and this project has been pretty stressful. I guess I lose a little sleep, but in the end it’s a rewarding experience.”
Martinez said each player is partnered with a child who has been or currently is a patient at CHaD.
The player gets to meet the child, hear about his/her experiences and get to see firsthand why they are supporting CHaD.
This year, Gardner is sponsoring a seven-year-old boy named Chris who is suffering from a brain tumor with left-sided paralysis.
While each participating member is asked to raise $1,500 prior to the event, Gardner hopes to raise at least $2,000.
Last year the hospital raised $233,000 and this year hopes to reach $250,000, according to Martinez.
According to their website they have raised almost $21,000 so far.
KSC professor Jaime Ingalls first met Gardner last semester when he transferred to KSC and is helping him with the fundraising process. “I admire and support [Gardner’s] cause to raise money for the organization,” Ingalls said. She continued, “He is a highly motivated student who is committed to helping others.”
According to Ingalls, who teaches two safety classes at KSC, “The Battle of the Badges event is a special cause in New Hampshire. CHaD is a fantastic place that provides a phenomenal service to children and families that are going through a difficult time.”
In addition, Ingalls claims the Battle of the Badges experience is rewarding for all who are involved.
“The children it represents get so much enjoyment out of it, and the participants in the event get the chance of a lifetime to engage with some of the greatest kids in the world,” Ingalls said.
Ingalls plans to be in attendance at the event.
Ingalls added, “It makes me feel so inspired to do more community work whenever any of my students take the initiative to give back like this. I hope that everyone connected with the Keene State College family will find a way to support his cause.”
To raise money, Gardner will be selling tickets to the game, raffle books and sponsorships up until the event.
Martinez explained it is $10 for six raffle tickets, which includes prizes such as tickets to the NH Fisher Cats, concerts at the Verizon Wireless Arena and tickets to the NH Motor Speedway. Participants also raise money by selling tickets to the game for $10 or selling $5 CHaD bracelets.
Kendra Snyder, a nursing major at KSC who hopes to work in a critical care unit after graduating this upcoming May, was able to offer some insight into the lives of patients staying in hospitals based off of her experiences with clinical.
“I have learned all through nursing school, and in life for that matter, that quality of life surpasses all obstacles,” Snyder said.
She continued, “On the days I walk into clinical, as long as I can make my patients smile, giggle or feel good in any way, I know I’ve done more than just physically take care of them. I’ve made the quality of their experience just a little bit better.”
Garnder, Ingalls and Snyder can agree that this, essentially, is what is being accomplished by the Battle of the Badges fundraiser.
Snyder stated, “The outcome of this whole initiative is to uplift and celebrate the lives of the sick children. If the children are old enough to understand what these public officials are doing for them, they will gain so much respect and appreciation for their community.”
Snyder added, “The children recognize that they are individuals that matter in this state, and just the attention they are getting from these role models and community is just enough to make them feel so special. The fundraising and sponsoring may not be what helps them recover, but it gets them that much closer to being healed, cured, and filled with happiness and joy in life.”
Jill Giambruno can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org