New York Rangers alumni pose with Antoinette Fabian and Raquel Coleman, who have benefited from Ronald McDonald House New York's services.
On Friday, February 6, 2015, former New York Rangers Rod Gilbert, Brian Leetch, Ron Duguay, Nick Fotiu, Ron Greschner, and Stéphane Matteau, among others, took to the ice. But this time, the hockey legends were supporting a New York organization of a different sort. The event was Skate with the Greats, which brings Rangers alumni together to benefit Ronald McDonald House New York’s (RMH-NY) efforts to provide a comfortable haven for families who come to the city seeking cancer treatment for their children.
For the 21st all-ages event, which was sponsored by RBC Capital Markets, Bloomberg, Zurich, ITG, Mutual of America, and Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and took place at the Rink at Rockefeller Center, guests were invited to bring items from skates to pucks to jerseys and everything in between to be signed by Rangers alums.
There were many ways to support the Ronald McDonald House throughout the evening, including silent and live auctions that spotlighted exciting items like signed memorabilia, a table at Rao’s, a Zamboni ride at a Rangers game, and golf and hockey outings—sometimes with the Rangers greats themselves (the grand total raised was over $750,000). Event-goers enjoyed passed hors d’oeuvres, dinner items, and beer, wine, and spirits for the adults as they watched famous Rangers skating alongside avid fans young and old on the iconic ice rink.
What inspires these New York Rangers alums to align with this cause in particular? “There are many good charities that I am involved with, but this one is immediate—if a kid does not get your support right now, if The House can’t support the family right away, […] it is serious,” Hockey Hall of Famer Rod Gilbert said. “This is [what] makes it different, and this is why people are so kind and [why] they respond.”
Brian Leetch, of the 1994 Stanley Cup-winning Rangers squad, shared the same sentiments: “There isn’t a bad charity to support and I know that everyone has causes that they hold dear to them. So everyone who comes to this and gives money, thank you because it is a great cause.”
Volunteer Ken Schulman (who is also a partner at Pryor Cashman) with Miss New York Jillian Tapper and Stéphane Matteau.
RMH-NY President and CEO William T. Sullivan said that even though Skate has evolved, its core values remain the same. “In some ways Skate has always held that magical appeal for hockey fans who have a rare opportunity to hit the ice with their favorite hockey legends,” he explained. “No matter how the program changes, or who attends, that magic never changes, and we are grateful for that.”
As for the future, Robert Grubert, Head of US Securities at RBC Capital Markets and an Executive Board Member for RMH-NY, sees the event growing. “Once they get to know the [Ronald McDonald House] families and see the kids, you get a lot more people involved,” he said. “[The event] will get a lot broader and a lot more people [will get] involved.”
The most poignant part of the evening came when 14-year-old Antoinette Fabian, and her mom, Raquel Coleman, who stayed at the Ronald McDonald House while Antoinette sought treatment for a rare cancer, took to the stage to share their stories. Antoinette recounted how Ronald McDonald House made her feel at home even while facing cancer treatments, and Raquel recognized the Ronald McDonald House as their heroes, noting, “You are our Stanley Cup.”