Saturday, January 28 was a first for the Utica Comets, as they held their first ever Save of the Day Foundation Night, presented by New York State Tool. From the moment the black and bright green “U” jerseys arrived in Utica about a week prior to Saturday’s game, Comets President Robert Esche knew it was going to be a special night.
And that it was. With the largest 50/50 pot in Comets history, and a twofold jersey auction/raffle, Save of the Day Foundation raised a total of $72,649, which will be donated directly to benefit the Thea Bowman House in Utica. Despite a final shootout score of 4-3 in favor of the Syracuse Crunch, the atmosphere in the building was palpable, and even reminiscent of past playoff games held at the AUD. “It was a very special night for both the Utica Comets and the Save of the Day Foundation,” said Esche. “It’s the first time the foundation has ever had its own night, and I think our community really came together to support something that will become a tradition for years to come.”
By building the 50/50 pot over three games, the Comets wound up with a final pot total of $35,202, with over $22,500 raised on Saturday night alone. Both the jersey raffle and jersey auction were massively successful, as a number of lucky fans got to leave with a piece of Comets history. The highlight of the raffle, Thatcher Demko’s custom helmet, went back to its original owner, as Demko donated $5,700 to the Foundation in order to keep his custom creation. The Save of the Day ‘Suit Up’ live auction was also a first, as fans got to leave with not only a jersey, but other pieces of green and black equipment to complete the whole look.
Esche was not the only one wowed by the successes of the night. Matt Wilsey, President of New York State Tool, was proud to be the presenting sponsor of the night. “My wife and I had a vision to help that was embraced by Robert Esche, members of his foundation, the Utica Comets players and front office that was executed flawlessly, start to finish, to benefit the Thea Bowman House,” said Wilsey. “Every nuance of the event maintained an excitement for fans, but also told a great story for those in the building that night of not just what Save of the Day is and does as a foundation, but also its history in the Mohawk Valley.”
And Jane Domingue, Director of the Thea Bowman House, could not have agreed more, stating, “The entire Thea Bowman House Community wants to thank the Utica Comets for an extraordinary experience. We enjoyed singing the anthem, riding the Zamboni, and the thrill of seeing our first hockey game and auction. We thank the event sponsor, Lisa della Santina, Matt Wilsey and NY State Tool Company for seeing the potential in each of our children and for helping to “Save the Day” for so many little ones. We will never forget your kindness.”
As we move further into 2017, and the Save of the Day Foundation enters its 15th year in existence, fans can expect to see further changes and additions coming to the Foundation’s partnership with the Comets. With a new slogan of “Engaging in Change,” Esche and the Foundation are extremely excited about what’s to come and how Save of the Day will continue to help our community engage in continuous, charitable efforts.