“Skate with the Greats,” a fundraiser at Bethpage Ice Skating Rink on Sunday, Aug. 14, will be the first step in helping underprivileged Long Island children afford to play in organized sports leagues.
That is the goal of former Long Island Ducks hockey star Buzz Deschamps as he launches Trudy’s Kids, a charity honoring his late wife.
Hall of Famer Clark Gillies as well as fellow former NHL players Rick DiPietro, Pete Stemkowski and Gilles Villemure are scheduled to attend the public skating session and barbecue Sunday between 5 and 8 p.m. at 1001 Stewart Ave. in Bethpage (across from Bethpage High School). Former Met Bud Harrelson and several media personalities also are expected.
The cost is $100 per person or $250 for a family. Proceeds will go to kids who need assistance in paying for registration fees, equipment and travel expenses. Deschamps, an Ontario native who settled on Long Island after seasons as a big goal-scorer for the Ducks at Long Island Arena in Commack, said he just completed the 25th year of a similar organization in Canada in honor of his late father.
Trudy Deschamps, who died in December after a long battle with cancer, was called “The First Lady of Long Island Hockey” by Islanders great Bryan Trottier. “She was that, and she always will be,” said the Hall of Famer, who was a friend of the family ever since Buzz and Trudy invited him to their Bay Shore home when he was a rookie in 1975. “She was beautiful to the core and she had a specialness about her that always made you feel like you were part of the family.”
Buzz said his late wife became friendly with many of the families of the Islanders during the Stanley Cup run (Buzz was coach at St. John’s University and an executive with a hockey stick company). Her connection with hockey began much before that, though. In the 1960s, as a single mom, she brought her three children for hockey lessons at a camp run by Ducks players. Deschamps used to joke that he would choose team captains at the camp based on who had the prettiest mom. That day, he told John Brophy and other teammates, “I found a dandy.” They were married for 44 years.
More information on the event and on the organization is available at trudyskids.org or by calling Deschamps at 917-861-1352.