Roseville and Fraser public safety face off for kids in need

By: Kevin Bunch | C&G Newspapers | Published March 19, 2014

 Members of the Roseville Fire Department face off against the Fraser Public Safety Department on the ice during last year’s charity hockey game. This year’s is March 30, and the game will raise money for a one-week summer camp for kids with cancer.

Members of the Roseville Fire Department face off against the Fraser Public Safety Department on the ice during last year’s charity hockey game. This year’s is March 30, and the game will raise money for a one-week summer camp for kids with cancer.

Photo by Bruce Nierzwick

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FRASER — The Roseville Fire Department and the Fraser Public Safety Department will be taking to the ice March 30 to help kids with cancer.

The two cities have assembled hockey teams to play a charity game with the aim of raising money to send kids with cancer to Camp Quality, a children’s camp set up specifically for cancer patients.

Joel Higuchi, coach for the Roseville firefighters’ hockey team, said the two cities have had charity hockey games going for about seven years. While the original plan was simply to build camaraderie and have fun, it quickly became built around raising money for kids to go to camp.

Higuchi said that, originally, they were raising money — around $4,000-$5,000 — for the University of Michigan burn camp. Once they found Camp Quality a couple years ago, the Fire Department decided to throw its donations, and time, toward it.

“A lot of us donate our time out there,” he said. “It’s roughly $500 per kid and there’s no cost to the kid or their family, so it’s 100 percent by donation. That’s why we wanted to align with them.”

Roseville Fire Chief Mike Holland said the camp runs for about a week, with firefighters volunteering to go and serve as counselors. He said the ratio typically is about one child to one firefighter, allowing them to make it an “intense and personal program” for everyone involved.

Roseville firefighter Bill Ciner organizes the charity games and is a volunteer at Camp Quality. He said he first learned about the camp three years ago through his fiancée, Catherine Fournier, who works as a camp nurse there.

“The first year was when my fiancée got me involved,” Ciner said. “I went out in the summer for a week of camp in Fenton, and it really touched my heart seeing these kids. And the following year, I got the Roseville Fire Department and hockey team, and Fraser’s, involved.”

He said the camp gives children the opportunity to just “be kids” for a week and hang out with other people going through the same things they are.

This will be the third fundraising game for Camp Quality, Ciner said, and he has been working on soliciting donations and interest from a variety of local businesses and groups to raise money for the program, including the city and the firefighters’ union.

Higuchi said they have raffles and a 50-50 at the hockey game, as well as a “puck drop.” He said attendees can purchase a puck and, at an appointed time, toss them into the rink. The person who gets his or her puck closest to the center of the ice wins. The departments also sell T-shirts, he added.

On top of that, the two cities also are playing for a bit of prestige — as both cities share the same attorney, Tim Tomlinson, Higuchi said he got them a trophy called the “Mayors Cup” that the two teams compete for. Currently, Fraser holds the trophy, having won the past three years in a row, though Higuchi feels that an influx of new firefighters may give Roseville the edge.

Lt. Daniel Kolke, Fraser’s Fire Division commander, said that Roseville handles much of the organization of the event, giving his team the date when it gets scheduled. He is expecting a Fraser victory based on the successes of the past few years, but he said it’s a good experience both for the people who come to watch and for those on the ice.

“The guys take it seriously, but they also have fun with the firefighters with Roseville, because every one of our cops is also a firefighter,” Kolke said. “We also run ambulances and do mutual-aid runs with Roseville, so the guys see each other on a daily basis.”

Holland echoed that statement, saying it’s a plus for the emergency responders from both cities to get together and shake hands outside of an emergency situation, as it can help them work better together when they are on a run. He added that some players are joining from outside the two communities, like public safety officers from Mount Clemens.

Ciner said, last year, they raised around $6,500, and he hopes to top that number for this year’s game. The camp also is supported by other fundraisers throughout the year.

Tickets for the game can be purchased at the gate at the Great Lakes Sports City Arena, 34400 Utica Road in Fraser, or in advance at the Roseville Fire Headquarters at 18750 Common Road. They are $10 in advance or $15 at the door. The game is set to begin at 1 p.m.

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