Skaters on the ice at Fort Dupont Ice Arena. Photo: Friends of FDIA
This Saturday, Sept. 6, RMNB and the Brouwer Rangers are hosting #PARTYZORD: The Brouwer Rangers / RMNB ‘Legends of Ice Dancing’ Tour de Pouwer (to support Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena)™.
Between the special guests (ahem, Troy and Carmen Brouwer, anthem singer Bob McDonald, etc.), the raffle prizes and sundry shenanigans (e.g. Ian fulfilling his Ice Bucket Challenge), it’s going to be a lot of fun. But it’s also going to raise money for a really worthy cause. We wanted to take just a minute to tell you more about it.
In 1976, the National Park Service (NPS) built Fort Dupont Ice Arena in recognition of the U.S. bicentennial. Over time, the arena fell into some disrepair, leading NPS to plan to close it in 1996. That’s when Friends of Fort Dupont Ice Arena, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, stepped in to revitalize and take over management of the facility.
Friends of FDIA’s mission is to provide increased opportunity, education and inspiration to the young people of Washington, D.C., and the surrounding area through ice skating and educational activities. As part of that mission, they created the Kids On Ice® program, which provides free figure skating, hockey and speed skating lessons to economically disadvantaged children who might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn these sports.
FDIA is also home to the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club (FDIHC), which was founded in 1978 and is the oldest minority hockey program to participate in the NHL’s Hockey Is For Everyone Program.
Today, Fort Dupont Ice Arena is the only public indoor rink in the city, and the only skating facility in the area that provides free or subsidized skating programs to children. 10,000 skates touch the ice at Fort Dupont for free every year, which seems pretty cool to us.
Because Fort Dupont provides free and subsidized ice skating and hockey programs to the community, they rely on financial support from foundations, companies and individual donors to maintain the facility and keep programs running. The Washington Capitals, USA Hockey and the National Hockey League are all supporters, and so are the Brouwer Rangers!
Here’s Capitals defenseman and apparent bowling-shoe enthusiast Karl Alzner with a really skeptical-looking kid at a recent MSE Foundation service project day at FDIA. (Photo: Friends of FDIA)
Friends of FDIA is also planning some big changes. The arena is coming up on its 40th anniversary, and it’s starting to show its age a bit (especially considering it was originally intended to be a temporary facility!). Friends of FDIA is currently working with D.C.’s Departments of General Services and Parks and Recreation on plans to modernize the arena – but if you ask us, “modernize” is a bit of an understatement.
In fact, they’re working on plans to rebuild the arena entirely. The $20 million project will lead to two sheets of ice, larger locker rooms, increased storage space, improved spectator viewing areas, a new kitchen and commercial food space (concession stand!), and community rooms. Friends of FDIA needs to raise $5 million toward the cost, while still bringing in funds to keep the programs running in the meantime.
Last year, we were able to donate $1,010.10 raised during our Indiegogo campaign to Friends of FDIA. By “we” I don’t mean the Brouwer Rangers; I mean all of us. More than 60 people contributed to the campaign to make that gift possible. Troy Brouwer matched our gift, for a total donation from “Brouwer Pouwer Nation” of $2,020.20. (The same amount went to another local hockey charity, the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program.)
That’s nothing to sneeze at, but in a world where Joel Ward will occasionally stop by with a $12,000 check for FDIHC from the Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation (which he did in February) and Friends of FDIA is staring a $5 million fundraising goal in the face, we figured our relatively small gift wouldn’t make much of an impact. Well, it did. Unbeknownst to us at the time, that small injection of funds made a big impact for Fort Dupont at a critical time.
That’s why we’re doing this. Because every little bit counts.
Yeah, we’re looking forward to hanging out with fellow Caps fans, celebrating a new hockey season, trash-talking Ian about his ill-advised bet, falling down a lot, and handing out a ridiculous load of raffle prizes. But at the end of the day, we’re doing it to support a great organization that is literally using hockey to change young people’s lives.
We think it’s healthy to take a step back every once in a while and ask, “am I making a difference? Can I be doing more to help people less fortunate than me?” We try to ask ourselves that questions from time to time, and this is one way we’ve found to make a difference. We’d like to challenge you to do the same.
All the details for #PARTYZORD are over on Facebook, where you can also RSVP to let us know you’re coming. We’d love to have you join us. (Please take all these raffle prizes off our hands!) But if you can’t make it out to the party, we hope you’ll consider making a donation to Fort Dupont anyway. They can put whatever you can give to good use.
P.S. Ian says two more “special guests” are likely coming tomorrow. If you don’t come, you’re going to be super sad. You’ll also be hot, and not in the good way. It’s supposed to get up to 93 degrees tomorrow. Gross. Ice level at Fort Dupont is like 15 degrees, so:
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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