CORPUS CHRISTI, TEXAS – The Corpus Christi IceRays and the Corpus Christi Hooks teamed up on Friday night at Whataburger Field to raise $1,070 for former IceRays defenseman Matt Olson, who is recovering from a spinal cord injury suffered last season.
Olson, 20, played 13 games for the IceRays during the 2014-15 season after being acquired from the Minnesota Wilderness on Feb. 5, 2015. While playing for the Chicago Cougars of the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL), the Forest Lake, Minn. native caught an edge on the ice and fell headfirst into the boards, causing paralysis below his neck. Olson’s story has caught national attention as well as that of the hockey community, including the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks, who held a benefit night at a Wild game last season. In total, nearly $200,000 has been raised for Matt Olson and his recovery.
The IceRays and Hooks worked together over the last few weeks to organize, promote and host an IceRays night with the Hooks that would go toward helping Olson and promoting the cause. Both organizations have members with relationships with the Olson family, and the impact felt by the incident weighed greatly on the two teams. This made the decision to team up that much easier to not only help a person in need but also go beyond sport for someone close to Corpus Christi community members.
“It was a privilege for us to partner with the IceRays on this project benefiting Matt Olson,” said Hooks Vice President and General Manager Michael Wood. “Sport plays such an important role in bringing people together, whether it’s to simply enjoy competition and entertainment or support an important cause. We are grateful to our fans for their response to Matt’s need.”
The Hooks presented an open platform for awareness and discussion about Olson, allowing for Dunn to speak to the crowd about Olson’s story and show a seven minute-long video created by FOX Sports North specifically on the events leading to and following the injury. Prior to and during the game, the Hooks hosted the IceRays for a silent auction on the concourse, auctioning a Matt Olson IceRays game jersey, a Hooks signed bat by the 2016 team, and special signed and donated sports memorabilia. Top auctioned items included: the Hooks signed bat ($150), a Nolan Ryan signed baseball ($175), and the Matt Olson jersey ($450). Multiple Hooks patrons also donated money included in the final total of $1,070. All proceeds from the auction will go directly to the Matt Olson Foundation from the IceRays and Hooks.
“I am not surprised that the community rallied behind both organizations to benefit the cause,” said IceRays General Manager Pat Dunn. “It wasn’t about either team that night but more for Matt Olson. I can’t find the words to express my gratitude toward the Hooks organization for their kindness in setting up this event. They are a class organization from the top down.”
For those looking for a way to donate, visit Matt Olson’s GoFundMe page. For more information on Matt Olson’s story, visit the GoFundMe page or contact the IceRays at 361-814-PUCK.
The IceRays open the 2016-17 home schedule on Friday, Oct. 14 against the Odessa Jackalopes at the American Bank Center. Purchase your 2016-17 season ticket membership ahead of opening night! Reserve yours by contacting the IceRays Front Office at 361-814-PUCK. In addition, stay connected with the IceRays on Facebook (/CorpusChristiIceRays), Twitter (@goicerays), YouTube (IceRays TV), Instagram (CorpusChristiIceRays), Vine (@goicerays), and Periscope (@goicerays).