The Kings Park/Commack Alumni Hockey Team is taking on a big challenge next month.
The team will face off against all-star opponents, including former New York Islanders Clark Gillies, Bob Nystrom and Benoit Hogue.
But the real challenge is raising money for a cause.
Kevin Barattini, one of the team’s captains, organized the charity event and brought former teammates together to benefit two foundations: The Sarah Grace Foundation for Children with Cancer and the Frank J. Rizzo V Memorial Scholarship Fund.
The Sarah Grace Foundation was established by Marissa and Matt Weippert, of Hicksville, whose 12-year-old daughter Sarah lost her battle with leukemia in 2002. The foundation supports children and their families overcome the challenges that come with childhood cancer.
Barattini, who owns an entertainment company, became involved with the Sarah Grace Foundation in December when he was the DJ for a charity Christmas party for the organization. He knew he wanted to continue working for the cause.
“It was at the children’s hospital, and it just hit home,” he said. “These kids might not make it to the next Christmas.”
Barattini also chose to support the scholarship fund established in memory of Frank Rizzo, who played hockey for the Kings Park/Commack hockey club when he was in high school and died in a Sept. 26 car accident. Rizzo had turned 30 the day before died.
Rizzo’s brother Ryan, 29, said after the accident, his family established a memorial scholarship in his brother’s name through Dollars for Scholars of Commack, which will provide financial support to a Commack High School student for college.
As soon as the fund was set up, Ryan Rizzo said Barattini approached his family about adding the charity as a beneficiary of the hockey game.
“It means so much to our family after what’s happened over the last six months,” he said. “It’s given us something to look forward to.”
Ryan Rizzo is also joining the 17-man alumni team for the game.
The hockey game will take place April 10 at Superior Ice Rink in Kings Park. Barattini said the former Islanders and other former NHL players will take on the alumni hockey team after a ceremonial puck drop by the Weippert and Rizzo families.
Entertainment during the event will be provided by Barattini’s company, Barattini Productions, and a pregame ceremony will be hosted by Sal Ferro, chief executive of Alure Home Improvements and eight-time remodeler for ABC’s "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."
"American Idol" Season 4 finalist Joe Murena will sing the national anthem, the Stony Brook Ice Girls will perform, and the New York Islanders mascot will be on hand.
There will also be a 50/50 raffle, Barattini said, and a halftime drawing to win a plasma TV.
The game starts at 4:30 p.m.; tickets are $10 at the door, in advance at Superior Ice Rink's snack bar, or by contacting Barattini at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barattini said he hopes the game will become an annual charity event.