Welcome to Defending The Blue Line's testimonial page! 

Read the testimonials below and then share your story about how Defending The Blue Line® has helped you or someone you know. Click here to share your story and/or photos!


Matt T.

My family and I thoroughly enjoyed the game last night.  When we arrived at Bridgestone, we were surprised to find out that our seats were one row off the glass and included access to the Lexus Lounge.  We have never had that kind of star treatment at any event, and it made for an amazing, once in a lifetime experience.  My kids love seeing the Predators live, and we appreciate the chance to enjoy quality time in such a great venue in between my deployments.  I know your organization is quite large and includes many donors, so I don't know exactly who to thank for providing us this opportunity.  Big thanks to you and Defending the Blue Line, and please extend our sincere gratitude to the appropriate individual(s).


From DTBL Facebook post

"I just wanted to write to tell you guys thank you.  I have two little ones and well my youngest is just crazy about hockey.  See for me it is a real blessing because my son has Cystic Fibrosis and all the physical activity I can get him to do is helping save his life.  His dad is an activity duty Marine, so we have heard about Defending the blue line through the grape vine, and I just had to tell you thank you.  It is scary when you know your kid wants to play hockey because it can cost a fortune and knowing that you guys do so much to help the burden for military families is just amazing.  So in short thank you!"


Jill S.

We can't thank DTBL enough for all their support over the past year!  We are very proud to share that our team took 1st place in the SCAHA Squirt B division.  Receiving the grant towards Michael's travel hockey dues has been a huge help in covering the cost of his travel hockey expenses.  Thank you again for all of your support.



Bryan B.

Thank you for the financial assistance for my son to attend the Pro Ambition goalie camp.

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Dave M.

Hi Shane, a huge thanks to you and your staff for the opportunity to skate with Gigi Marvin this week, the kids absolutely loved it, met new friends and played great hockey. They are looking forward to Warrior Camp next month:

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Christine H. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you from the bottom of hearts for gearing up our family. As we head into our tournament tonight we feel so bless by the gifts you have given us to play. My son Taylor just was amazed by your staff. He said when he is older he wants to help kids like you did today.

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Christine R. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you, DEFENDING THE BLUE LINE for sponsoring my little hockey kid to come to this summer's DTBL Warrior Camp at Camp Ripley. He is looking forward to it.


Amber A. on DTBL Facebook
Thank you Defending the Blue Line!



Brittany on DTBL Facebook

On March 15th, Maya was invited to Dallas as a Defending The Blue Line kid, dropped the puck for the game and played on Team Daley in the 2015 Dallas Stars Alumni Community Chest Game. Proceeds from auction of the game worn alumni jerseys go to a great cause: DEFENDING THE BLUE LINE! A huge thank you to DTBL & the Dallas Stars Alumni Association! Being a military hockey kid rocks!



Jill Slate

We can't thank DTBL enough for all their support over the past year!  We are very proud to share that our team took 1st place in the SCAHA Squirt B division.  Receiving the grant towards Michael's travel hockey dues has been a huge help in covering the cost of his travel hockey expenses.  Thank you again for all of your support:

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Neta L. on DTBL Facebook
Just wanted to Thank you for the amazing things you do!


Katie W. on DTBL Facebook

As Minnesota residents and an active duty family in the Army for the last 10 plus years we are so thankful to be supported by such an organization! This is such a blessing! Our military children are not asked if they want to serve, yet they stand tall and are the bravest and strongest people I have come in contact with. Thank you for supporting our nations heroes! We are blessed to have the love! Kindergarten aged Connor is discovering his love and devotion to hockey and we can not get him off the ice. We look forward to our return to the "homeland", the land of 10,000 lakes!


Shawn E. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you to DTBL and all of the supporters for getting this little man all set for his 1st year of hockey!



Sara R. on DTBL Facebook

Look at that smile behind that mask! Thanks Defending the Blue Line for all you do!! Representing Defending the Blue Line!!

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Angela K. on DTBL Facebook

Natalie & Claire Kinneberg are DTBL kids! Thank you for all your help to get them the rest of the gear they needed. They played in the Sauk Rapids Jamboree this past weekend.

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Zachary P. on DTBL Facebook

Thanks DTBL and Brent Burns!

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Taylor H. on DTBL Facebook

Hi my name is Taylor and I wanted to thank you for helping me play hockey. Its been an amazing season learning more about hockey and more about myself. This game is not just a game its also teaching me life skills. Thanks for making it happen. I'll never forget the people who helped me.

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Michael K. on DTBL Facebook

Thanks to DTBL for giving kids the opportunity to play the game.

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Jacob R. on DTBL Facebook

Just wanted to share some pictures of my son aiden enjoying some ice time on hockey day in America. Thanks for the equipment DTBL.

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Christine H. on DTBL Facebook

This is Derek and He wanted to share this photo and say Thank you for making it possible for my season to happen. Derek's goal is to someday become a goalie and defend the net just like my dad defends the country. Thanks so much!!!

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Canadian Equipment Recipient

Hockey Day in Canada 2008. Theo Fleury is a huge supporter of the troops in Alberta and is taking the drop with your lone Canadian grant recipient.

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Allison L. on DTBL Facebook

I thought I would share this picture with your organization. With support from Defending the Blue Line, many military kids in our remote, Alaska community have been able to take up skating at an early age. Last night, in -10F temperatures, in a non-heated, covered rink our 3 year old got on her (your borrowed) skates for the first time. Thanks for all you do!

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Dana H. in Afghanistan

My daughter, Nora received the hockey gear just yesterday. I wanted send a note of thanks and wanted to share the photo sent to me in Afghanistan. I want to thank you for the incredible support and we're looking to see her on the ice. From what I'm told, she is very excited! Thank you! Dana H.



K.C. Erredge on DTBL Facebook

What a great birthday surprise! Thank you so much DTBL and MN Wild!!!!



Scott G. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you, DTBL, for the goalie equipment. It was in full force this weekend, as Megan was in goal for their U8 Jamboree in Hudson, Wisconsin.

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Rachel and Kailer Suerth

We would like to send DTBL and Mr/Mrs Burns a great big MAHALO for this amazing opportunity for our kids. They had a great time and was so grateful to be in the suite. It was a great surprise and added highlight for their evening. The tournament we were there for ended that afternoon. Our kids played in the 12U division and took home the gold medal. We were blessed that the other tickets you gave was to my friend and my son's teammate so we were able to take most of the team with us. I got to rotate some of the kids so most had a chance to go up to the suite.
We greatly appreciate DTBL and Mr/Mrs Burns for their support and generosity to our military children. God bless you all. 'm attaching a few pics to show our apprection.
Rachel and Kailer Suerth
and 12U KIHA team (Kapolei Inline Hockey Assoc.)

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The Hammer Family

I just wanted to send a Thank you for all that you do for our kids. Our girls love hockey so much,  and the support we receive from DTBL has allowed us to keep them in hockey year round. You organization is amazing and we cannot thank you enough.

Daughters Chloe and Julie who play for the Channel Island Ice Center:



Angela C. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you DTBL for all the awesome goalie gear! Tyler saved the day in his first shoot out. We are so thankful for what you have done for us and our military families! God Bless and Merry Christmas!

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Adrianne S.

We can't thank you enough for the opportunity to watch the Caps game. Everything was amazing! My family and I had a wonderful time, the boys had so much fun that by the end of the game (went into OT!) they were absolutely wiped out:

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Mike E. on DTBL Facebook

Huge thanks to DEFENDING THE BLUE LINE, the Dallas Stars, and especially Alex Goligoski for giving me the opportunity to attend the game last night. A great game and a great win! Thank you all so much!


Michael G. on DTBL Facebook

My son just received his equipment from you guys thank you so much. I don't know if my wife and I could have done this with out you. Thank you and may the hockey gods bless you.



Blake M on DTBL Facebook

Thanks for all your support. We were able to have a little border battle here in the Middle East.



Patrick B.

Thanks for a wonderful night!! My daughter and I had a wonderful time because of the Boston Bruins, you guys and the Defending the Blue Line organization. Needless to say, nothing makes up for being away from my family last year or for my upcoming deployment, but your kindness and support goes a long way towards replacing the “missed events” with fun filled hockey memories!!


Nick, Jen, Dominick and Vincent

Shane, Thank you for helping us find the right equipment today for our sons. We are so grateful for your organization. As I said my husband is not from here so is new to hockey, but he was over whelmed when he saw what you provided to our sons - the proper hockey equipment they needed to start playing hockey!



Joe R. on DTBL Facebook

Thanks for everything you guys do with this program! Dover Stars NH Mite Majors Travel team dominated the opening game of the season with my son in Net thanks to the Gear you supplied!!

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Steph B. on DTBL Facebook

Espirit de corps: the common spirit existing in the members of a group and inspiring enthusiasm, devotion, and strong regard for the honor of the group. My kids came home from Warrior Camp bubbling with it. So happy and grateful that they had the opportunity! Thank you Shane, and DTBL!


John and Jenn Swanson - Hovland, Minnesota

Our son Elijah had a wonderful time at the Warrior camp! It was his first time away and being on base with other Military families was an amazing experience for him. He LOVED the gun simulator and talking with Parise and Burns!! He enjoyed making friends and playing some hockey. Thank you again DTBL for doing what you do and giving him this chance!! It is very appreciated!


Sara R. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you DTBL for your an AMAZING camp this past week! I am enjoying all the stories from the girls!! They had a wonderful time!


Salata Family - Fremont, California

I would like to thank Defending The Blue Line for all that you do. Shane introduced us to Cathy Andrade Power Skating and made one little boy very happy to be able to have private lessons from her in San Jose while his daddy was deployed for 10 consecutive months. My son was only 4 when he started, but he was ready to learn and loves hockey with a passion, she is an amazing teacher and it was definitely something that took his mind off of his daddy being gone. My husband was able to meet her when he returned safely home and was highly impressed by what Zeke can do. Just can't thank you enough for doing so much for military kids, including mine.

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Joleen O. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you to DTBL for putting on an AWESOME Warrior Hockey Camp!! My son can't say enough how much fun he had, and talking to Zach Parise, well, he'll be floating on that for a long time to come...THANK YOU again for all you guys do for these kids!!!!


Sandy A. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you DTBL and Cathy's Power Hour for a great session! This military child is one lucky girl! We appreciate everything you do:

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Adrian L. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you DTBL!! You guys are absolutely amazing.

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Jodi P. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you, DTBL, for giving our son the opportunity to be a runner at the NHL draft. What an amazing experience!


Tiffany M. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you to DEFENDING THE BLUE LINE for helping my child attend goalie camp this week. We appreciate everything you do for our military kids. Malachi is having a blast at camp!



Kim H. on DTBL Facebook

His letter shows my son's thankfulness -- but stops short of showing you the happy skip in his step as he took his letter to the mailbox and raised the flag!! THANK YOU for all you do -- we are grateful!! As well, thank you for the ease of making contact with you and the helpfulness of our interactions!!

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Adrian L. on DTBL Facebook

My son got his stuff in the mail last friday!!! He was so excited. Used his skates at practice on Saturday and said he felt like a pro. Also, he has been taking his player cards everywhere. Thank you so much for all that you do. Our family greatly appreciates it.


Michael K. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you from the Kelly family at Camp Pendleton.




Michele T. on DTBL Facebook

Thanks for the awesome box of hockey gear. Alston was thrilled when he came home from his last day of 2nd grade to find the box from Defending the Blue Line on the porch! Thank you!


Hammer Family from California

Thank you so very much to Defending the Blue Line! There are not enough words to express how amazing it is to have an organization that encourages and supports children in their love of Hockey. Our two girls love playing hockey, and through DTBL we can keep them going! Many, many thanks and we look forward to being involved with DTBL events in the future.



Mick, Jill, Michael and Christopher Slate

Dear DTBL,

I just wanted to send a huge thank-you to everyone who has donated and put this program together!  We received word a few weeks ago that both of our kids received grants towards their hockey expenses.  This was such great news especially since my older son is getting ready to play travel hockey with our local Squirt team this fall.  I have to admit the cost of having my son take part of the travel team has been a bit of a weight on our shoulders.  However, as most parents do we will find a way to make it happen and your organization has truly helped with that concern.  What you and everyone do to help make this possible is amazing!  I hope to see DTBL in an event here in LA sometime in the future!  You all have truly blessed our house with some great memories and experiences by giving us these grants and we can't thank-you enough!

Michael's (front left) team won 1st place for the Squirt division this past Memorial Day at the Escondido Star and Stripes tournament in California:



Greg from Petawawa, Canada

Thank you DTBL for all your help. You have given my son the opportunity to not only thrive at the game he loves, but also the chance to represent his district, his province and when in one case his country with pride and distinction. I can only hope that I will one day be able to pay it forward. Thank you DTBL for all you do. It is people like you and your supporters that allows soldiers to do what they do and know their families are in good hands.



Ashli B. on DTBL Facebook

Annelyse in her new gear. Thanks, DTBL!


James D.

Thank you again for all that you have done. Attached is a picture of my 9 and 5 year olds from the game. They had a blast. Again I'd like to express my thanks.














Jake R. on DTBL Facebook

Aiden's first hockey equipment courtesy of Defending The Blue Line!- Jake R.



Sandy A. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you for making my daughter's dreams come true! She has dreamed of being a goalie since she began playing hockey five seasons ago. An opportunity came up this season for her to give it a try but buying gear was not an option. I will never forget the look on her face when she opened the boxes with her very own goalie gear. She wore the gear for the first time in last night's shut out game. She had super powers on the ice thanks to DEFENDING THE BLUE LINE. Thank you from the bottom of my heart! Read more about Julianne here.



Ashli B on DTBL Facebook

My daughter received her DTBL equipment over the weekend. She can't wait for spring break to be over so she can wear it for practice. You know it's a big deal when she's wishing spring break away! Pics to come. Thank you so much!


Jessica A. on DTBL Facebook

He's ready! Thank you!!


From Jake R. on DTBL Facebook

Thanks for everything you do! Broke a stick at practice and made one for my little guy. Thanks for helping to get my family and me into the great sport of hockey!













Lisa J. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you, Defending The Blue Line®!!!



William F.

Just wanted to say thanks again for the opportunity to go to the Sharks game and sit in the Burnzie's Battalion Suite. The game was awesome and we all had a lot of fun. Thank you again for all you do!  - William F.

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Jonathan P.

Thank you so much for your support and opportunity to spend time with my family at the Sharks game, it was a great time and went very well.  My daughter loved her birthday present. Thank you also to the Burns family, they are generous and we greatly appreciate their support.










Lana D. on DTBL Facebook

The Davis family thanks you again! Without you this would not be possible!



Minnesota Wild and Thomson Reuters Military Appreciation Night Testimonials

On March 3, 2014 the Minnesota Wild hosted Thomson Reuters Military Appreciation Night to benefit Defending The Blue Line®. Read some of the testimonials from DTBL Facebook.

Marka K. - My husband (MN Air National Guard) and 11 year old squirt will be there! We also have been recipients of DTBL's awesome grants and equipment. Thank you DTBL!

Chris A. - Thank you DTBL for giving me and my family the opportunity to attend on Military Appreciation Night. We had a great time and got to see the Wild put a "W" in the column!

Pat M. - Thanks Shane and all the volunteers from DTBL. It was a great night and an awesome display of support for our military families.


Mike F. USAF

Just wanted to pass on this pic of my two kids getting ready to take the ice in DTBL gear. Hockey is great for them and teaches them some great lessons that I think will help them through life and the ups and downs of being "military kids"....when you fall down you gotta get back up...thank you and your great organization.  Very respectfully, Mike F. USAF



Samara L. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you thank you!!



Justin F. on Facebook

Thanks Defending the Blue Line!



Austin and Amanda P. on DTBL Facebook

Thanks for all that you do! 



Lisa J. on DTBL Facebook

I can't even begin to tell you how happy you have made my son. Thank you a million times for this amazing program!!!


Nicole A. on DTBL Facebook

My son preparing to take the ice and receiving his first medal in his Defending The Blue Line® gear:

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Tracy S.

Just wanted to say thanks. Without DTBL, my kids may not have had the opportunity to play hockey, and Autumn would definitely not be a goalie. By the way, she played in a tournament a couple weeks ago and had 72 saves in one game in a losing effort with a final score of 1-2.  She gets complimented by other teams' coaches and gets told that she has tons of potential. She wants to be on the womens olympic team someday, and theres no way that dream would even be on her radar without you, Shane Hudella, and DTBL. So again, thanks for all you do.


Eric G. on DTBL Facebook

My son at the Tampa Bay Lightening Holiday Camp. Thanks to Defending the Blue Line:



  • Brett E. on DTBL Facebook

  • I just wanted to let you know that I received gear today and it just brought me to tears.I am so thankful for this as I am 70% disabled and I love hockey very much.This is going to be a fantastic therapy for me thank you.


Ronnie M.

I would like to send you this Picture that we took at the game last night. We had a great time! The boys were in awe of the game since we were so close they could see and feel the excitement of the game. It was even more exciting with a good win. I would like for you to extend my appreciation to Mr. & Mrs. Hendricks. My family greatly appreciated the tickets and the good solid family time provided by this event. This is a top notch organization both the Predators and DTBL!



Thank You Letters

Recently DTBL has received many letters from military kids with big thank you's for equipment, camps, and NHL game tickets that were provided to them.



Jeff A.

January 7, 2014 - We had a great time at the game Tuesday night. The action was top notch and from our vantage point we were able to take it all in. This soon-retired Soldier is very appreciative of DTBL and all of your sponsors (Hendy's Heroes). - Jeff A.










Jaron D. on DTBL Facebook

Got some used gear and some new gear... new elbow pads and breezers (pants) amd the skates look basically new... theyre NICE skates. We are sooo excited to give this to the boys on christmas . Thanks to DEFENDING THE BLUE LINE for the gear.


Mike F.

Thank you, Mrs. Burns, and the San Jose Sharks very much for such an amazing opportunity to attend that Sharks game.  It was one that my family and I will always remember and we had an amazing time.  We really appreciate and please let us know if you need anything!  Take Care and Go Sharks!

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Lana D. on DTBL Facebook

Just wanted to share the face of one of the many military children this organization helps out! Thank you so much to Defending the Blue Line and all of their supporters!!!! Photo credit: Rich Ingersoll



Jaron D. on DTBL Facebook

Got some used gear and some new gear... new elbow pads and breezers (pants) amd the skates look basically new... theyre NICE skates. We are sooo excited to give this to the boys on christmas . Thanks to DEFENDING THE BLUE LINE for the gear.


Justin P. on DTBL facebook

You guys are such a great organization! So many kids are given such a great opportunity thanks to everything you do! When I return from my deployment I am planning on coming up to drop some gear off for you guys and hopefully catching a Wild game. I look forward to helping you guys make a difference in a kids life!


Dakota, Age 7

Dakota's dad is deployed and she was selected to receive a grant thanks to the help of the Disabled American Veterans and the huge donation they made to Defending The Blue Line®.



PFC L'Heureux in Afghanistan

I'm currently stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan. I just wanted to say thank you so much for sending us some gear. We all really appreciate it.



Jason P. on DTBL Facebook

Thanks DTBL! My Son's first time on the ICE!



Nick C.



Cynthia W. on DTBL Facebook

October 1, 2013 - Captain Jodi Kiminski and me at the Wild practice today!! Thanks Defending the Blue® Line for ALL you do for our military families. - Cynthia W.



Jamie M. on DTBL Facebook

Thanks DTBL!



Helen B. on DTBL Facebook

Daisy received her equipment today and she is over the moon! Thank you so much, you really are a wonderful charity Go DTBL and Minnesota Wild!




Rebecca Y.

I wanted to drop a line and say THANK YOU.  Our little guys just attended West Point Hockey Camp with a grant from your fabulous organization.  They had the best time, especially on the ice of the Black Knights.  As an Army spouse, I can't say enough for what you do for military families, especially ones like ours where all four of our boys play.  I have to say, the best moment was at the game on the last day, when our oldest skated to the glass and realized his dad was watching from Afghanistan via-Skype.  From gear, to grants, and general support, you're making it possible for a generation of military kids to play the sport they love!  Thank you!

Rebecca has a blog called "The Only Girl Among Boys" - A wee bit of rambling about being the only girl in the home of five men and life as a military wife and author.



Bradley B. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you Defending The Blue Line®!! Package showed up this afternoon. Looking forward to a great season!!


Lana D. in North Carolina

My family and most importantly my son Damien would love to thank DTBL! Not only have they outfitted our son with new equipment after his recent growth spurt, he was also given a grant so that he could move to Squirt A Travel on the Carolina Stars! He had begged to play travel hockey and with the help of DTBL and all of its supporters he is finally able to do so! It means so much that there are so many people out there that want to help military families! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!











Alexis S.

These are my children Brianna and Brandon. Thank you so much for helping them with gear for hockey. Brianna is pictured with Pascal Dupuis of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Brandon is on ice. (Brianna was picked to meet Dupuis and catch his puck at the Altoona curve game.)

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From a Family in Columbus, Georgia

I just wanted to say if it was not for you neither one of my boys would be playing....God Bless you


Rick G. on DTBL Facebook

I would like to thank DTBL and Robby Glantz for giving my son Nathan the opprotunity to skate at Robby's camp in South Burlington Vermont. He had a blast and learned so much. I can't thank you enough.

Sandy A. On DTBL Facebook


Photo taken at sharks ice in San Jose, CA


Thank you so much for supporting our troops. My daughter would not have been able to attend the Robby Glantz camp at Sharks Ice at San Jose without you! She had a great time and learned so much!



Heidi D. on DTBL Facebook

Thank you to DTBL for supporting our military kids and families. Grace was able to attend the RinkRat 19 hockey school through their help. She had an amazing time learning with a stellar group of people! Feeling blessed to have such an amazing organization!!

From St. Ignace, MI

We have recently been made aware of your organization. Thank you so much for supporting youth hockey and military families. Hockey has brought so much joy to our son's life and has taught him so many lessons. He often struggles when his dad is gone or underway but our hockey family has made those days easier on him and for that, again, we are greatful. Thanks again for all that your organization does.


Dan F. in Kuwait

I can't thank you enough for your generosity.  My daughters received sticks, t-shirts, necklaces and bracelets today back home in Florida.  My wife said their eyes lit up when they opened the box.  My wife is packing up for a move to her home town of Denver, Colorado (Go Avs!) while I’m gone, but I’m certain the girls will carry their new gear with them.  What an excellent charity. Thanks again!


Mike B. in Afghanistan

I wanted to take a minute and tell you how pleased and thankful I am with finding this program. I was blessed to have received tickets from DTBL for an islanders game to see the amazing Matt Martin. It was the last and the best family trip before I deployed to Afghanistan. My son Isaac is 9 and has been playing hockey since he turned 6. He will be playing hockey again this year but unfortunately without his dad helping to coach his team. I have been helping to coach his team cause I loved to be on the ice with the kids and sharing that passion of hockey with my son. Thank you for all you do!


Jason H.

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!


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