Comm Ave Charity Classic Aims to Help ALS
by Jashvina Shah/Staff Writer
When Pat Mullane was a freshman at Boston College, he met Sports Information Director Dick Kelley. Kelley served as mentor for Mullane and some of his Boston College teammates.
Kelley passed away from ALS — Lou Gehrig’s Disease — a few years ago.
“Everyone you talk to, you’ll realize that Dick was one of the best people you’ll ever meet,” Mullane said. “He was so passionate about my success as an athlete but more importantly my development as a college student. And I walked around I think my freshman and sophomore year with this ignorant, cocky swagger. And I think he recognized that and was like, ‘You know, Pat, you have to walk a fine line between being confident or having too much of it.’ And so I think for me, I learned a lot from him on how to conduct myself and the way a Boston College athlete should act.
“When he came down with ALS and passed away, I was devastated. And then you find out that (former BC baseball captain) Pete Frates, he is the prototypical BC athlete. An All-American kid a smart, charismatic young man who has so much life ahead of him — and he comes down with ALS.”
Mullane thought there must be something he can do. He reached out to fellow Boston College graduate Andrew Orpik, brother of NHL’er Brooks Orpik. Mullane knew they could use their connections to create a charity event for ALS.
They settled on the inaugural Comm Ave Charity Classic, which will take place July 10 at Walter Brown Arena, BU’s former home rink.
“There are so many talented hockey players that are still living in Boston, that come back for the summers, why not use this to our advantage,” Mullane said. “So we stumbled on this BU vs. BC alumni game at this storied venue, Walter Brown, it’s a way to bring back some of the best players that ever played at BC or BU for a great cause and a great environment and we figured what better way to raise money than to put on an event like this.”
When Orpik and Mullane reached out to the hockey community, the received a lot of support. The game will pit Boston University and Boston College alumni back in the Comm Ave rivalry, and will features current and former NHLers like Jay Pandolfo, Ton Poti, Mike Mottau and Kevin Hayes.
“I think a lot of people sort of look at the BC-BU rivalry specifically with hockey and think that the guys are really just adversaries and not friends … the reality of it is, both groups, whether it be BC or BU, guys are kind of cut from the same block,” Orpik said.
Mullane reached out to Pete Frates, and Frates directed him to Compassionate Care ALS. The non-profit, founded by Ron Hoffman, had worked with the Frates and Kelley families, as well as several others connected to BC.
“Often times, and certainly not always, our work becomes intimate,” Hoffman said. “We’ve created in a relational model which allows for relationships to unfold through that intimacy from emotional support. It’s so much more than equipment we’re able to offer families. We’re very much able to walk with them on this journey.
“Dick’s a very private person. Had he chosen, like Pete, he could’ve been very much out in the public. His way was to be much more private. And part of the work that we do, that I’ve learned to do, it’s important to do is really honor what people are. Pete and his family are one of the faces of ALS in this country in a very huge way, and that’s an extraordinary thing.”
Hoffman helped set up the event’s site, while Orpik, who lives in Boston, helped interface with BU.
In addition to the game, there will be a silent auction featuring game-worn Kevin Hayes and Johnny Gadreau jerseys, Red Sox tickets, riding on the Zamboni at Bruins games and more. All proceeds will go to the Compassionate Care ALS Foundation.
“What they’re doing matters. It truly, truly matters,” Hoffman said. “They’re impacting lives that they have no idea that they’re impacting.