CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Current and former pro hockey players laced up their skates Saturday for a charity game organized by the Cascade Firefighters Association.
Money raised at the game will benefit Gilda’s Club of Grand Rapids and Riding for Ryan, a non-profit organization raising bike safety awareness.
“We want to make it an annual thing,” said Luke McCarthy, a firefighter at the Cascade Fire Department and former pro hockey player who helped organize the event. “First time we’ve done this. The idea got tossed around about what we could do to raise money and help support.”
Riding for Ryan is a charity near and dear to the Cascade Firefighters Association. It’s named after Ryan Marsman, the son of Andy Marsman, a firefighter in the Cascade Fire Department.
“It’s amazing,” Andy Marsman said. “They’ve been our support system since the day of the accident. Really our family. They stick with us and we work together. It’s huge, just a continuation of the mission with our family.”
The Marsman family’s goal is to raise bike safety awareness by handing out free flags to kids so they can put them on their bikes.
“When they are on their bikes, they sit so low to the ground,” Stacie Marsman said. “Our goal is to get flags out to as many kids as we can to raise that visibility so when they’re riding around when vehicles are nearby, they can see them. We don’t want what happened to Ryan to happen to another child.”
Riding for Ryan has handed out around 7,000 flags. The organization’s mission inspired former pro hockey player Easton Oliver to fly in from New York to play in the game.
“Such an important thing,” Oliver said. “You hear the story of the background of everything that happened, you do everything you can do to support a good cause. People around here are great people.”
Riding for Ryan has provided flags for kids in more than a handful of states and Canada.
For more information on where you can pick one up head to RidingforRyan.org.