D.I.D.S. to host first major fundraiser for arena expansion

Four time Olympic gold medalist Hayley Wickenheiser poses for a portrait in Calgary. Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

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Get ready to “Raise the Rink” in Blackfalds in more than one way with the Dual Ice Development Society (D.I.D.S.).

For the first time, the organization – in conjunction with the Blackfalds Ag Society – will be hosting a major fundraiser April 6 at the Blackfalds Multi-plex Arena. The event is designed to aid in their ongoing efforts to raise $1 million towards creating a second indoor ice surface in the community.

The idea for the event came about mostly through raising enough money through smaller fundraisers, such as pancake breakfasts and carnivals, to finally be able to put on a larger scale event.

“Everyone was saying they just wanted to have  a dance,” said D.I.D.S. President Karen Sernecky. “Everybody likes cabaret-style events so that where Raise the Rink came from.”

D.I.D.S. originally formed to help kickstart and prioritize the process of adding a second indoor ice surface within the community.

As Blackfalds is one of the fastest growing communities in the country, as per the most recent federal census, the municipality had a lot of much needed infrastructure projects to complete to accommodate that growth. However, with growth also comes a need for more recreational facilities and an indoor rink is at the top of that list.

Maria Germsheid, D.I.D.S. treasurer and one of the organizers of Raise the Rink, said it’s crucial for Blackfalds to get a second indoor ice surface.

“We’re having to host home games for hockey in Clive because we don’t have enough ice time. We have 6 a.m. practices for 9-10 year olds on weekdays,” she said, noting her own family will have four of those this month. Other families have had 11 or more, depending on the number of players.

Older teams, meanwhile, have to travel outside the town to find ice time, and have practices between 8 and 11 p.m. at night.

Council’s recent award of an architect for the arena expansion, however, has really become the formal start to the whole process.

“It’s very exciting,” said Sernecky. “We’re going to start hitting corporate sponsors hard this year. We can start applying for grants now – we couldn’t do any of that until we had an actual OK from town council, architects, and things moving forward.

“It’s so huge for us.”

Architects are expected to be in attendance at D.I.D.S.’ March meeting, and they should have some preliminary drawings for April. The architects have also promised to keep in touch with D.I.D.S. and various groups involved or to be impacted by the expansion project.

To date, D.I.D.S. has raised $28,000 towards their goal through smaller fundraisers, such as pancake breakfasts during Blackfalds Days. The hope is they’ll more than triple that amount during Raise the Rink and add another $100,000 to that total.

Doors to the event – which will only be available to those 18 years of age and older –  will open at 5:30 p.m., with dinner provided by Bob Ronnie to be served at 6:30 p.m.

“We have some really fun things going on. We’re actually going to be auctioning off our Wrangler team to serve tables,” Sernecky said. “The Wranglers are very excited.”

A few more live auction items may be in the works, including a potential cake/dessert auction, as well as high-ticket item silent auction.

Perhaps one of the biggest draws to the event however, will be special guest speaker and former Canadian Olympic athlete Hayley Wickenheiser. Regarded as one of, if not the best, female hockey players in the world, Sernecky says Wickenheiser was chosen specifically because of her motivational speaking.

While the fundraiser itself will be 18+ only, they also plan to run a contest with local hockey teams to win a short meet and greet with Wickenheiser before the more formal fundraising event begins.

Entertainment will be provided by Boogie Knights DJ Services throughout the night, and a progressive 50/50 draw will also take place, with tickets being sold in the lead up to the event.

Although early bird ticket sales ended earlier this week, there are still plenty of regular tickets available.

Tickets are $70 each or $540 for a table of eight and can be purchased through the Black Knight Inn Ticket Centre online at https://tickets.blackknightinn.ca/TheatreManager/1/tmEvent/tmEvent1037.html.

When 50/50 tickets go on sale, those interested in purchasing tickets can do so by contacting Karen Sernecky at 587-877-9266.

For more information, visit the D.I.D.S. website at https://www.dual-ice-development-society.ca/ or find them on Facebook.