UPDATE: Bruins scrimmage fundraiser part of larger community effort for Wyatt Hamlin

Published 3:27 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Editor’s note: Updates with amount raised over the two days.

In the last few days, the city of Austin has come together in an effort to support Wyatt Hamlin and his family.

The 16-year-old was severely injured on July 30, when the vehicle he was driving was struck by another vehicle, who’s driver was allegedly under the influence of alcohol.

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Now a community within a community has added its weight to support the cause. On Tuesday and Wednesday night, the Austin Bruins hosted a fundraiser around intrasquad scrimmages, which are part of the team’s minicamps.

For $5 donations, people could watch what usually have been closed-door evaluations of potential Bruins players, but Austin Packers boys hockey coach Troy Schaefer, along with the Bruins, came up with the idea to make it part of the overall effort to support Hamlin, who is a defenseman for the Packers.

“Steve and I were talking and the Bruins wanted to do something for Wyatt,” Schaefer said, shortly after a ceremonial puck drop before the first night of practice.

“Our guys were all here and we’re having our minicamps,” Bruins head coach Steve Howard said. “Why don’t we open the doors? If we can promote it to pay at least $5, we’ll donate all of the ticket sales.”

The Bruins put a game-night atmosphere over the event, complete with music, lights and plenty of hype. The concession stand was open and 50-50 tickets were being sold.

In total, the two nights raised $2,925.

Howard said that Hamlin’s accident has not only touched the hockey community, but Austin as a whole. It made sense for the Bruins to be a part of the effort.

“It means a lot to all of us,” Howard said. “I’m just so happy Troy Schaefer called me out of the blue. The donations were really good, and we’re hoping we can do the same thing tonight, and more.”

Hamlin suffered severe head and neck injuries in the crash and was airlifted to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, where he was placed in a medically-induced coma.

However, an update from Hamlin’s mom, Sheila White, on the Wyatt Strong Facebook page earlier this week said that Hamlin was able to interact with friend Gahvin Schaefer and wave to his nurse.

The road will be long, but events like the scrimmages and all of the other events happening in town is further proof of how a community can rally and is part of a larger team effort.

“You would think the hockey world is small, but I’ve seen Wyatt around the last six years,” Howard said. “I know a lot of his teammates. Troy helped out a ton and it just goes hand-in-hand with what people in the community are donating.”

With so much work ahead, the hope for all remains Wyatt’s recovery.

“Honestly, in the end, I just want to see the kid back on the ice,” Schaefer said. “I’ve been coaching him for a long time and he needs to get back out there.”

For more information, visit the WyattStrong Facebook page.