The Kings Park/Commack Alumni Hockey Team will hit the ice at Sunday night in a game to benefit the Sarah Grace Foundation for Children with Cancer and the Frank J. Rizzo Memorial Scholarship Fund.
The nearly sold out event is turning into quite a show and will have former New York Islanders Bobby Nystrom, Clark Gillies and Benoit Houge lacing their skates to face off against the KPC Alumni Hockey team. Former New York Jet Boomer Esiason announced yesterday on WFAN that he will be skating as well.
It was around Christmas of last year when Kevin Barattini owner of got a call to see if he could DJ for an event at the last minute. Barattini obliged and was forever changed. It was for the Sarah Grace Foundation established Marissa and Matt Weippert who lost their 12-year old daughter Sarah to Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in 2002. The foundation supports children and families battling childhood cancers.
“We were stuck for entertainment and I asked my nephew, who hooked us up with Kevin, who donated his services. The kids said it was the greatest party ever,” said Matt Weippert.
“We played games. The parents had such joy, they wanted to do it again. We hugged, we cried,” said Barattini.
And that’s when Barattini knew he had to do more.
Barattini is the owner of Barattini Productions an entertainment company. He also enjoys hockey and played for much of his youth on the KPC hockey team of which he is now the captain of the alumni team.
In September of last year, Barattini lost a good friend and teammate, Frank Rizzo who was killed in a car accident the day after he turned 30. Soon after Barattini decided to put together the charity event.
Marissa Weippert says she is thrilled about the event and is hoping for a large turnout.
“We are tickled pink,” said Weippert.
Barattini will take to the ice and play with past and present team captains including Brad Simon, Adam Tuckman and Ryan Hoenigmann.
Sal Ferro of Allure Home Improvements and ABC’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition fame will be hosting the pre-game ceremony. He has known the Rizzo family for over 20 years and said that his own brother passed away suddenly at the age of 21.
“Continue the emotional connection to the family. Continue to remember them,” said Ferro.
Joe Murena, American Idol Season 4 finalist will sing the national anthem and Sparky the Islanders mascot will hit the ice with the Stony Brook Ice Girls. Kings Park's own and former New York Ranger, will be there as well.
The team will be wearing #68, Rizzo’s number, over their left chest. There will be two ceremonial puck drops one for Rizzo and one for Sarah with Gilles and Nystrom in the face offs.
The two former hockey greats came down to Superior Ice Rink on Thursday evening to meet the families involved and learn more about the cause. Nystrom warmly greeted the Weipperts, hugging them and said he was honored to be part of the event.
“We are glad we can help,” said Nystrom. “Whatever we can do to make this a better event we are ready to do.”
Gilles, standing six-foot-three and recognized as one of hockey’s toughest players, jokingly put Barattini in a headlock.
“This is as good a turnout for an alumni fundraiser than we have seen in five or ten years,” said Gilles.
“It is a special day for everybody,” said Barattini. “It’s not about me,” says Barattini. “It is about keeping the memory of Frankie alive.”
Catch the game Sunday evening at 4:30 p.m. at Superior Ice Rink. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door or in advance at the rink. Raffle tickets will be sold for an after game meet and greet with the players along with a 50/50 raffle and a giveaway for a plasma TV.