Shoot for the Stars all-star game to benefit Hometown Heroes

first_imgBy WAYNE WITKOWSKI Correspondent Two brothers from Middletown playing ice hockey professionally — James and Trevor van Riemsdyk — will drop the puck for the opening faceoff and another brother, Brendan, will play in the 17th annual Shoot for the Stars Foundation Shore All- Star Hockey Game. The game is set for 5 p.m. Aug. 3 at Red Bank Armory’s ice rink.The game pits leading players of Monmouth and Ocean counties against each other.James Van Riemsdyk, a Toronto Maple Leafs winger the past two seasons, started his NHL career with the Philadelphia Flyers, where he played for three seasons after they made him the second overall selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Trevor van Riemsdyk is headed to his first NHL preseason camp with the Chicago Blackhawks. Both played at the University of New Hampshire before their pro careers.Brendan van Riemsdyk attends Christian Brothers Academy and was selected as a forward for the Monmouth County All-Stars.Monmouth County has won three of the last four games and leads the series, 11-5.Admission is $10, and proceeds from this year’s game, which includes raffles of signed NHL jerseys, hockey sticks and other items, go to Hometown Heroes, a nonprofit founded in 2008 to help local families. Recently it dedicated its efforts to families whose homes and lives were devastated by superstorm Sandy, which struck in late-October 2012. It has offered professional assistance, advocacy and monetary aid totaling more than $2 million to 2,500 families. For the past three years, the foundation has given proceeds to the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean County and to various other causes, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Brick Stars Challengers, youth hockey programs and the Frances Foundation. When a six-alarm fire destroyed the Hometown Heroes headquarters in Toms River, Jim Dowd, a member of its board, was determined to help. He made rebuilding that agency his cause for this year’s game. James van Riemsdyk participated on Nov. 24, 2012, in Operation Hat Trick, a charity hockey game held at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City to raise money for superstorm Sandy victims. “This organization is the best one out there. It’s helped thousands of people, especially from [superstorm] Sandy, on the idea of paying it forward, and we’re glad to help get them back,” said Dowd, a retired veteran of 16 NHL seasons on 10 teams, including the New Jersey Devils’ 1995 Stanley Cup championship team.Hometown Heroes reopened an office shortly after the fire a few blocks down on Washington Street, and Director Mike Schwartz said that despite losing computers, files and other ancillary equipment, his agency is “75 percent back to normal, although it’s going to take a while before we’re back to where we’ve been.” However, financial resources are low, with much of the money that has been given having already been spent on superstorm Sandy victims. Schwartz said the operating funds are sufficient to keep the agency moving forward.“Jimmy Dowd has been just great, and the game is such a success that it’s a blessing that he’s helping us,” said Schwartz, who said 26,000 people in Ocean County are still displaced from their homes.“Applications keep coming in. It’s a 10-year process,” Schwartz added about the recovery.There are other applications from military veterans and those who are sick or homeless.“On that level with Sandy relief, this aid has shocked us,” Schwartz said. “But we’re up for the challenge.”Many do not have money because of ongoing mortgage payments to rent an apartment, which usually requires an additional month’s deposit, Schwartz said. He warned of bogus groups collecting money under that cause.Hometown Heroes ( has chapters in Newtown, Pa., as well as the New York City area, Florida and Louisiana.Dowd will also closely watch the game, as he is taking on his first high school coaching job with the Manasquan/Point Pleasant Beach co-op team that will include his son, James, on the roster.Dowd, who led Brick Township High School to the 1985-86 NJSIAA title in his senior season, was inducted into the New Jersey High School Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010 and has been involved in youth hockey in Monmouth County for almost 20 years.“I want them to experience hockey like my four years I had at Brick [Township],” Dowd said. “I want to create a culture. I still talk to my high school coaches.”Brick Township coach Bob Auriemma has coached the team for 46 seasons.Dowd set a national high school scoring record when he finished his career at Brick Township with 375 points on 189 goals and 186 assists.Dowd said he is also about to launch a health and wellness company with Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman. The company is based in Frisco, Texas, specializing in a variety of health supplements.“I’ve been involved for a year-and-ahalf, and I’m all-in on this,” Dowd said.last_img read more