Fans and sponsors of the Junior B Ponoka Stampeders had some fun last weekend during a fundraiser for the hockey club.
The fundraising dinner was held at the Stagecoach Saloon Saturday, Nov. 1 to an almost sold out crowd, explained organizer Debbie Lamey. As secretary-treasurer for the club, Lamey said many of the sponsors and fans have never had a chance to have an informal gathering with the players.
The evening brought entertainment from comedian Ken Valgarson, who had attendees laughing out loud with his quick wit and a live auction supplemented the silent auction of more than 30 items. Auctioneer Dan Skeels worked his verbal skills to bring the highest bid from attendees.
Lamey says every team member wanted to attend in an effort to meet the fans. She was grateful for the community support. “Ponoka rocks, I’m telling you they’ve been really good.”
Her goal is to raise enough money for their big road trip, an away game to Medicine Hat.
“Usually about $5,000 to $6,000 for a road trip,” she said.
Busing, food and accommodation are a few of the costs associated with a road trip, Lamey added.
Captain Cody Lemon said all the players looked forward to the fundraising evening. “The boys are always happy when they can be together. It’s nice to see the community come out and support us, too.”
Within the past year, the team has become a more unified force, says Lemon and he feels the support from fans has made them proud of their efforts during the season.
“This year is just leaps and bounds (better),” he said.
Lemon credits manager Denny Pannenbecker’s leadership as something that the players turned to. Pannenbecker attends as many games as possible and ensures he is there to speak with players before and after games. “You need someone to have your back no matter what…Denny took us all on like a son, too,” said Lemon.
“Everything we do is for Damian. It’s for Denny and it’s for ourselves, too,” said Lemon, referring to the death of teammate Damian Pannenbecker last year.
He says Damian’s death helped unify the team and has driven players to stick together and play better. “It’s good to see that everyone rallies,” concluded Lemon.