Welcome to our testimonial page!
Read the testimonials below and then share your story about how Defending The Blue Line has helped you or someone you know.
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We got it. Thank you very much for all that you at DTBL do.
SMSgt Patrick Burke On DTBL Facebook
My son, daughter and I were fortunate enough to be treated to a Boston Bruins hockey game while sitting the in luxury box of Patrice Bergeron. After the exciting game, we got the special treat of meeting “The 2012 Frank J. Selke Trophy” winner Patrice Bergeron!!! Needless to say, we owe a huge thanks to DTBL!!!! As I prepare to leave next week for my 3rd deployment, this special night will long be remembered by my family and I. Thank you.
Our Defending the Blue Line story is one about family, about hockey and how we became a hockey family. We are a military family first of all, myself a veteran of both the Marine Corps and Army (now working as a DoD civilian) and my wife, also dual service as a Navy veteran currently serving in the Air Force Reserve (and deployed to Afghanistan since January). My wife and I both grew up hockey fans and playing on ponds and in the streets of New Jersey but never competitively as it was just too expensive and inconvenient for our working class families. When we met, two Jersey kids in North Carolina, our love of hockey was one of the first things that instantly drew us together in spite of, or maybe because of our teams' rivalry (she's a Rangers fan, I'm a Devils fan). Fast-forward 10+ years through a courtship, wedding, births, Stanley Cups!, deployments, PCS moves, honorable discharges, reenlistments and all the other comings-and-goings of military life and we have found ourselves reasonably settled back in our home state of NJ. It wasn't long before my wife and I would leave the kids with her mom to sneak off on a date night and watch my Devs take on her Blue Shirts... and it was like we were finally home.
We never pushed hockey on the kids and they seemed to not be very interested at all if we were watching a game on TV. That is, until it was Spongebob playing hockey on TV (Yeah... Spongebob). The next day while driving home from daycare my then 5 year old son shocked me when from the back seat I heard, "Daddy, I want to play hockey". Sadly, the first thing that I thought of was money. Instead I replied, "Well, you need to learn how to skate first." I was still dithering about the cost a few days later when an old Army buddy of mine called to see if we wanted to join his family at the rink for a public skate. I thought for sure it must be a sign. Things went well enough that first day on the ice that we signed my son up for skating lessons, and with a pair of too-big second hand hockey skates (girls skates with all the girly stuff removed) and his bike helmet he took to the ice like a duck to water. This was great as we had been trying to find him an activity to keep him busy and his mind off Mommy's frequent flight missions (his sister had softball and gymnastics) but pretty soon the skating lessons wouldn't be enough for him. The next few weeks saw me combing the internet to try to scrape together some gear so he'd be ready for Mites Cross-Ice... eBay, Craig's List and all the usual retailers were on my radar. My wife and I strategized the best way to approach it... should we ask family to get him gear for his birthday instead of toys? Roll the dice and see what might turn up in the spring yard sales?
Somehow, by accident (or perhaps divine intervention) I stumbled upon Defending the Blue Line and it was like a humongous weight was lifted off our shoulders. Not only could we get the gear my son needed... but GREAT gear! He got skates that fit... BOYS skates! And just as important as the loaner gear was the knowledge that somebody cared enough about military families and was passionate enough about hockey to make all this happen. After that Spring Cross Ice season when my daughter saw that her little brother was better than her at something she decided to give up gymnastics in exchange for hockey. I'm proud to say that instead of worrying about expenses the first thing I said to her was "OK, let's fill out a gear request with DTBL". Now when we see the Defending the Blue Line TV spot on NHL Network we all cheer. The kids are always quick to point out when Zach Parise is sporting his DTBL ball cap during interviews and like Zach we've become huge supporters of DTBL wherever we go. If DTBL is willing to stand up and be an advocate for my kids the least I can do is be an advocate for DTBL. And their dedication to military families doesn't stop at kids! Just days before her current deployment my wife was asked to drop the puck at a DTBL sponsored event providing a top notch send-off and a once in a lifetime memory. They've made a hockey family out of us and helped us face the challenges of being a young military family while they were at it. They're growing the game we love one military family at a time! I can't wait for the day when some little kid DTBL helped put on the ice is skating for the NHL... maybe it will be mine!
Misty C. on DTBL Facebook
We received our equipment for our toddler this week and wanted to make a shout out to DTBL. THANK YOU, DEFENDING THE BLUE LINE!!!
We thank you so much for this opportunity of making ice hockey a possibility for our boys. Living over 2 hours from a ice rink (each way) it makes it financially more challenging along with a very deep time commitment. If it wasn't for your grants it would be nearly impossible for us to make the dream of playing ice hockey for our boys a reality. Thank you so much for all you do.
I was seriously wounded by gunfire in Afghanistan and since then I have been going through multiple surgeries and rehab. Hockey has become even more important than it had been prior to that deployment as it is the activity which really binds us as a family. We would like to thank you again for the generous grant we received from your organization last year for both our boys.
My son attended the DTBL Warrior Camp last year and really enjoyed it so much that he wants to attend again this year. Thank you to all who put the camp together, much appreciated.
Our son currently is skating out and playing goalie. We have handed down skating equiptment and borrowed goalie equipment that has to be returned this year. He is a very energetic boy that has been faced with some huge challenges. Hockey has helped in so many ways. His advanced gross motor skills help His amazing abilities in the net. Any equipment is greatly appreciated. Thanks for helping military kids play this amazing game.
Jill S. on DTBL Facebook
Spent some time in Hastings this AM at DEFENDING THE BLUE LINE. What an awesome organization. If you have old hockey equipment to donate this is the place. They place about 25 kids a week into hockey gear and ship out all over the US and Europe. I hope our community of hockey players will continue to support this organization!
Fort Wayne, IN
I saw a TV commercial for Defending the Blue Line and I had to look it up. I now have two children that have received equipment from DTBL and another child and myself play as well. When my daughter received her gear she was so excited! Being 9 years old she couldn't wait to get on the ice. She wrote a thank you letter that we returned with the receipt. Shane Hudella personally hand wrote her a response! She still has the letter! I pass the word about DTBL to everyone that I can! Keep up the great work; it is greatly appreciated by those of us that have served.
A Letter From Alex: This Is A Must-Read Letter Received By DTBL
Hi my name is Alex I heard about your program through melony nelson of beyond the yellow ribbon and I am writing because I need some new hockey skates. Im a pewee and im on the B2 team. I really like it but I need some new skates because of 2 reasons the first is because the bottoms of my skate where my foot goes in comes out and slides around and I get welts on my foot and that hurts. The last reason is that I can’t get my foot in them because there to old and I used them so much. I have one last question, is there any chance that my brother and I could go to a camp in st cloud MN that you would sponsor? Oh one more thing I need to buy an new set of shin pads because mine got cracked in practice.
James Jelenowski, Glendora, CA
I want to say thank you to Defending the Blue line for a great family time and a true treat for a return home from my deployment. My brother and I were both deployed at the same time and thanks to you guys we were able to be together again enjoying our family's greatest pastime. We both have played and love hockey since we were born thanks to our father. You were able to get us together after our time away and let us enjoy a great game. I am so thankful for your orginization and to George Parros for what you all do. Thank You.
Gunnery Sargent Kelly, Camp Pendleton, CA
Being from the North East, and die hard hockey fans, we greatly appriciated the opportunity to attend the Ducks home opener in style. Thanks to Tom and Steve for making it happen. Also, a special thank you to George Parros sor stopping by to meet us after the game. I am looking forward to getting the kids some hockey gear and getting them out on the ice. Thank you again.
SFC John A Shannon, Michigan
great to see this program available, my daughter and i hope to be considered for equipment thanks for youer support
Greg, CFB Borden, Ontario, Canada
R.I.P DB- U WERE LOVED IN NY ON AND OFF THE ICE.
Greg, CFB Borden, Ontario, Canada
Thank you for helping those who need the help. Having a Hockey player at any level can be expensive, even worse when soldiers are deployed and families are forced to stay on a single income. I can't think of a charity closer to my heart than this one.
Bill Johnson, Minnetonka, MN
My daughter, Lauren, really enjoyed the summer camp. We met Darby Hendrickson's father and Lauren skated with his brother, Dan. We're heading to a Wild game in the latter part of February thanks to Burnzie's Battalion - sponsored by Brett Burns. We're really looking forward to that. We thank Shane Hudella, Brett Burns, the Hendrickson family, and all the other supporters of DTBL!
Becky, PC MN
What a great concept. My grandson had the opportunity to particpate in a camp this past summer and the program helped with new hockey equipment. What a tremendous help. Thanks for your time and effort.
Justin, Owatonna, MN
I am a deployed soldier overseas and am preparing to come home soon for R&R. DTBL was able to get me tickets to see a MN Wild game while I'm home. I have been dreaming of hockey all deployment and at one of the bases we even had a floor hockey rink built. I am VERY thankful and excited to get to see a game while on leave. Thanks DTBL for all that you do! You are doing great things for soldiers and our families. It doesn't go unnoticed.
Mike Lubovich, Forest Lake, MN
My son Asher, who is 4, couldn't stand on skates in his new DTBL hockey-gear in October. Now it's December and he's skating from end to end and even scores the occasional goal. My thanks goes out to the sponsors and managers of DTBL. Your contributions and dedication have allowed parents like me to focus on the most important aspect of youth hockey: Having fun.
Sargeant Gregory S. Gold, Putnam County, NY
I had the opportunity to attend the November 22 Rangers game against the Calgary Flames through the generosity of the Boogaard's Booguardians organization. I am a lifelong Rangers fan, and have ticket stubs in my collection from as far back as the early 1970's. I haven't been able to attend more than a handful of games in the past six or so years due to my work schedule, and when you add in my military time you can see how difficult it is to see a game in person. My wife submitted my name, and I was quite surprised that I was selected so quickly to attend a game. I decided to invite two other Soldiers I serve with, one of which had never seen a hockey game, let alone attend one in person. We had a fantastic time at the game, and I just wanted to say 'thank you' for your generosity.
Very truly yours,
Sergeant Gregory S. Gold, 105th Military Police Company, New York Army National Guard, Putnam County, NY.
Dennis, Ft. Hood, TX
Thank you Defending The Blue Line .... Just got back from "Wild" game ... We won 5-2 against Nashville ... We all enjoyed the game very much ... I am very thankfull to you for making it possible to take my family to a game during my midtour from Afghanistan...
Sheila, Warsaw, Minnesota
Just wanted to say Thank You to our hockey players and all who volunteer for this great program. Wish something like this would have been in place when my husband put in his 20 yrs. I am so proud of all who serve. Bless you all this Veterans Day. My prayers are always with you. "GO WILD" Army wife, Retired.
This is a great thing you are doing for our military and their families.Looking forward to buy some merchandise to help.
Margaret Ann Erwin, Laurel, MD
A Big Thanks to Defending the Blue line. My boys were given a grant to help with the costs of their summer hockey. They were able to participate in a great clinic this summer, which has really helped us pass the time. As their dad will be deployed to Afghanistan for a year. Thanks so much! I am happy to help in any way here in the Washington D.C area. Thanks again.
Micah Mohler, Brainerd, MN
I would just like to express my thanks to DTBL. Through their generousity, my son has received an entire set of brand new goaile gear and a week at a hockey camp. I have nothing but praises to say about the organization. I would also like to thank Shane Hudella as well. He puts a ton of time and effort into this great organization and asks for nothing in return but the smile on the face of a kid. This is truly a top notch organization and I hope that I may be able to contribute somehow to the cause in any way I can. The only kids that organization can't help are the ones who don't know about it so please pass the word on! Thanks again DTBL!
John, Farmington, MN
WOW! That is about all you can say! This group is amazing with the opportunities they have afforded our young hockey player in our family!
Steve Saari, Esko, MN
I look forward to helping anyway I can up here in the Duluth-Cloquet area!
CMSgt Steve Campos, Cottage Grove, MN
Fantastic site! Great concept, thanks to core group for starting this! I also am willing to volunteer to help this reach its highest potential! Anything to help our Army and Air members and families who are serving both home and in deployed locations.
SFC Gary Wenzel, Hastings, MN
It's a great website also its good that you guys are helping the kids of soldiers and the deployed one also keep up the good work.
Krystal Jancze, Woodbury, MN
I am currently serving a year tour in Iraq and to see something like this is just fantastic. Its hard for my husband to be a single parent of 3 and allow them to participate in activities that he has to get all of them too. Not only has friends helped with the kids, but a huge THANK YOU to Stillwater Hockey Association for assisting with the season for the kids to continue to play this year! I think the ACU hockey stick is awesome. When I can I am going to buy one for my older son, he is so very supportive of the military and what sacrafices the family has to give he would love to play with it and try and score one for MOM! When I get back next year I am going to definately volunteer and help another military family, because we have been there and know how hard it is when a family member is deployed. Thanks again for all your support!
Jean Clancy, Woodbury, MN
I love the concept of this site and I am looking forward to volunteering and provide my services to those that are in need. Myself and husband love the game of hockey and are huge fans!
Chris Blauert, co-founder Defending The Blue Line
When I was deployed we would play "boot hockey" at night when the desert wasn't as hot. It was great to be able to play the game that we missed back home during our deployment. This is one of the reasons why Defending The Blue Line is important. I want to share that same experience with deployed soldiers in the hopes that, like me, it will be a short escape from the rigors of the mission.
Jeff Nicholls, Duluth, MN
While deployed, sporting activities were an important escape from the daily routine. Playing street hockey was a great way to get my mind off things for a while and reminded me of playing boot hockey on the "pond" during winters with my friends back home.