By Maddie Smith
Community members far and wide came together to raise over $18,000 for a Western men’s hockey alumnus on Saturday, April 21.
“Rivets for Rusty,” a fundraiser ice hockey tournament, was held at Bellingham Sportsplex to raise money for Andrew “Rusty” Liebel who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, in December.
Retired Vancouver Canuck Garth Butcher was among a list of donors for the fundraiser.
Butcher donated signed jerseys, VIP tickets to a Canucks game and dinner in the press box, Debra Bray, the silent auction coordinator, said.
The Canucks tickets were bid on for thousands of dollars, she said.
The event was organized by Kyle Neal, another Western alumnus who played with Liebel on the hockey team for four years. Both players graduated fall quarter 2017.
Excluding beer sales, Rivets for Rusty has raised a total of over $16,000, all of which will be donated directly to Liebel and his family, Neal said.
The money that was raised will go toward Liebel’s medical bills and the renovation of his house to make it more accessible to him in the future, Neal said.
There was plenty of interest in the tournament from community hockey players. It didn’t take long to get 64 players to fill the rosters of the four teams that played in the tournament, Neal said.
“It’s not a big community, but it’s a really tight community,” Neal said.
Support for the the fundraiser included a beer garden from Aslan Brewery, a silent auction, players from the Western men’s hockey team, community hockey members, El Tapatio taco truck and All Star Design.
Throughout the event, Aslan beer sales and El Tapatio taco truck sales were constant, Neal said.
Billy Holbrook, another Western men’s hockey alumnus who graduated last spring, traveled from Nashville to be at the fundraiser. Holbrook said Liebel is one of his best friends. The two were responsible for much of the administrative work for the team, Holbrook said.
Holbrook and Liebel said they shared the common goal to “strengthen the program for when we were done.”
Liebel did all of the scheduling for the team, which was no small task, Neal said. Most players do the scheduling for one year and then pass the responsibility on to another player, but Liebel did it all four years, Neal said.