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Hockey game, open house to benefit veterans

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published November 2, 2018

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ST. CLAIR SHORES/CHESTERFIELD TOWNSHIP — With the goal of making a difference in the lives of veterans, employees of Stahls will take on the Detroit Red Wings alumni team to kick off the company’s Power Play for Heroes event during Veterans Day weekend.

For the past five years, Stahls and the Stahls Automotive Foundation have honored veterans, current military service members and their families with a two-day event, which raises money for Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs.

This year, Team Stahls will take on the Red Wings at St. Clair Shores Civic Arena, 20000 Stephens St. The puck drops at noon Nov. 10. Tickets cost $10 at the door. Memorabilia from the Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association and DC Sports will be for sale, and there will be plenty of photo opportunities.

The following day, beginning at 10 a.m. Nov. 11, Stahls Automotive Collection, 56516 North Bay Drive in Chesterfield Township, will host its fifth annual Veterans Day Open House.

“Our first year that we did it, we didn’t really realize how it would evolve into something so special for everyone,” said Wendy Taylor, who handles marketing and communications for Stahls Automotive.

Veterans and members of the military are near and dear to Ted Stahl, the executive chairman of Stahls and the founder of the Stahls Automotive Foundation, Taylor said.

“We have a lot of employees that are veterans that attend the event. It’s just a feel-good day and it’s definitely a day to remember,” she said.

Most of the members of Team Stahls are employees or family members of employees.

“Our coach is one of our employees, and he is also a veteran,” Taylor said.

And the Veterans Day celebration the following day at the automotive museum is amazing, she added.

“The collection is one of the rarest collections, one of the most intriguing collections in the world,” she said.

The museum includes “music machines” as well as rare vehicles like a 1924 Bugatti, the original “Tucker” from the movie “Tucker: The Man and His Dream,” and other cars that are one of a kind.

“Education, that’s what Ted (Stahl) hopes to inspire when they visit,” Taylor said. “You add veterans ... (and) there’s a lot of really great stories that get told that day.”

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More information is available at stahlsauto.com/veteransday18.

The Detroit Arsenal of Democracy Museum will also bring military vehicles to the event.

Donations are encouraged at the door for those attending the open house event.

“Some of our veterans share stories about driving those vehicles. There’s tears and laughter, and it’s a really great day,” Taylor said.

There will also be a speech at the event from a Michigan service member who received a dog from Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs.

Taylor said that last year’s speech was very moving.

“When he spoke of ... the realities of the everyday challenges that some of our veterans face and how these dogs are helping them, there was not a dry eye in the house,” she said.

Suicide and divorce rates plummet for veterans who receive the dogs, she said, and the dogs are only placed with veterans who truly need their services.

“When you hear those stories and how that happened and how that worked, that’s really touching,” Taylor said.

Last year’s event raised enough money to pay for at least one such dog. Stahls was able to name the dog that its donations paid to train, and the company decided on the name Babe.

“Many thanks to the Stahls and all of the supporters that are helping us to ‘unleash the power of hope’ through our highly skilled service dogs,” said Carol Borden, founder and CEO of Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, in a statement. “Because of the great people that support these events, we are able to positively impact, and even save, lives.”

The dogs go through extensive training and are provided free of charge to the veterans.

“They’re in training for over a year, and then they get paired and placed, the right temperament with the right vet for the right reason,” Taylor said. “It was a really good fit, and Guardian Angels has been so wonderful to work with. They do so much for the veterans that we wanted to be part of the healing process.”

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