Hockey faces off for crosswalks
Erin Suzynski passed away after being struck by a car while crossing the road. She was only 13 years old. Her family is now devoted to raising money to build crosswalks at playgrounds. Submitted by Catrina Aubry
Whenever tragedy strikes, a call to action usually follows. This is no different for one member of the women's club ice hockey team and her family.
Melissa Suzynski lost her 13-year-old sister, Erin, last summer when Erin and a friend were struck by a Jeep while trying to cross the road at a playground in Buffalo. Suzynski's friend survived the accident, but Suzynski passed away 11 days later.
Suzynski's situation is not rare. According to walkinginfo.org, 4,280 pedestrians lost their lives in a motor vehicle accident in 2010 and 70,000 were injured. It is in honor of Suzynski's passing that Erin's Crossings Foundation emerged.
Erin's Crossings Foundation was set up by Suzynski's parents in July 2012 and aims to do two things. One is to raise money to finance the building of crosswalks at local playgrounds. The second is to form a law that would make it mandatory for all playgrounds to have a crosswalk, something that could have saved Erin's life.
The family is currently working with LightGuards Systems Inc. in California, which would install solar-powered lights in the crosswalks.
"This is something we should all be thinking about," Suzynski's mother Mary said.
Mary said Erin's situation was something that could be easily prevented.
"We all need to be more vigilant," Mary said.
She said she and her husband chose to use the Californian company because it started doing research and came across LightGuards.
"They've been pretty successful in California and Florida, and they also have one crosswalk built somewhere in Upstate New York," Mary said.
Mary also said she chose the company because the crosswalks are weather-proof and plow-proof.
She said the choice to use the company is not definite.
"Another company may come along with something better," she said.
One downside of the solar-powered lights is the $15,000 cost, according to wgrz.com.
To shed light on the foundation and help raise money, Melissa and the rest of the women's ice hockey team will be hosting a benefit game called "Crossbars for Crosswalks" Saturday, March 9 in the Tuttle Ice Arena. Puck drop will be at 7 p.m.
Team member Amanda Etzel said the team came up with the idea for the benefit last summer, but a plan was not put into action until recently. Etzel said this was because of a time constraint and the young age of the team.
"We all came to play, but never really bonded until now," said teammate Catrina Aubry.
As of press time, the team was still trying to get the event sponsored by Brockport Student Government (BSG).
Etzel said DJ Tommy from the Stoneyard will play music at the event and there will be items to raffle off, a 50-50 raffle, T-shirts for sale and free pizza. Although the pizza will be free, donations will be accepted for it.
Items to be raffled off include gift certificates and coupons for local businesses including Lift Bridge, 58 Main, Boardwalk, Burrito Fresco, Jimmy Z's, Marks Pizzeria and the Strand.
Although this is the first event the team is doing in order to help the foundation, the Suzynski family had a previous benefit in Buffalo and has sold special bracelets made by girls at Erin's dance studio. Erin's brother also hosted his own memorial hockey game.
Mary said hundreds of dollars have already been made from the bracelets.
The benefit will be Brockport's last home game of the season and the team will face Geneseo. During the game, the team will wear special stickers on their helmets to commemorate Erin, which they have been doing throughout the season.
"The team wants to use the opportunity they have been given from Brockport's hockey program and use it to support other causes," Etzel said.
In order to get into the benefit, there will be an admission fee. All students will be charged one dollar and non-students will be charged two dollars.
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