If you’re a frequent fan of the Utica Comets, you have undoubtedly seen the impressive 50/50 pot totals after each and every home game. During some of the Comets’ bigger nights, the pot has reached over $15,000 – half of which goes to the winner, and half of which is given to the Save of the Day Foundation – a foundation devoted to helping children and 501(c)(3) organizations in the Mohawk Valley. And while the partnership between the Comets 50/50 and the foundation has been a successful one, there’s a lot more to the Rob Esche “Save of the Day” than meets the eye. And it all began over 14 years ago, across the country.
While playing for the Phoenix Coyotes in 2001, Utica Comets President and Whitesboro native Robert Esche was introduced to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and all that they do to help make terminally ill children’s dreams come true. He felt a deep connection to the program, and wanted to do his part to help children in need miles away in his hometown state. In 2001, Esche put on his own golf tournament, with all proceeds benefitting the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central New York, netting over $13,000. In the following year, Save of the Day grossed over $39,000 to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation once again.
Yet as the event continued to gain momentum after two successful years, Esche, along with longtime friend Kevin Lojewski, began to ask themselves how they could mold their charitable efforts to focus directly on the Mohawk Valley. “Kevin and myself got together with a couple of other close friends and decided to start our own foundation to impact the lives of children under the age of 18 in the Mohawk Valley struggling with life-threatening illnesses,” Esche explained. And, in 2003, after much collaborative thinking and planning, The Rob Esche Save of the Day Foundation was born. Even with Esche spending the next few years in the NHL, he and the rest of the board continued to help better the lives of children in the Mohawk Valley region by hosting golf outings, concerts, galas, roasts and an extremely successful NHL 4-on-4 event. After assisting a plethora of families and children over the years, in 2013, the foundation expanded its outreach to aid all 501(c)(3) organizations in the area. Although the foundation has broadened its scope, it still maintains a strong, primary focus on helping children struggling with life threatening illnesses.
When the Comets were announced in June of 2013, linking that AHL franchise and the foundation was a natural partnership. With the 50/50 system thriving as the driving force behind the Comets facet of the foundation, volunteers raised over $370,000 during the inaugural season alone. With the Save of the Day Foundation’s notoriety increasing during the 2014-15 season, the foundation raised over $450,000. It is projected that after the 2015-16 season, from its inception, Save of the Day will have raised over 2 million dollars to help children struggling with life threatening illnesses in the Mohawk Valley.
While undeniably successful with the Comets, Save of the Day stands alone as a foundation focused on those less fortunate in our area. And Esche, along with his board members, see no end in sight. “This season, we’re working diligently on streamlining the foundation towards three main initiatives: Health & Wellness, Fitness, and Education for children. We believe that these three aspects of our community are paramount to the success of not only the youth culture, but our civic pride as a whole.” The Rob Esche Save of the Day will continue to help children struggling with life threatening illnesses and local 501(c)(3) charities while narrowing its focus on these three targeted initiatives.