Dukes offer Hospital Foundation $20,000 pledge as season ticket drive kicks off

JUMP FOR JOY- Wellington Dukes Ben Woodhouse and Frank Vitucci celebrate the former's goal which stood up as a game winning tally in a 4-2 win over the visiting Trenton Golden Hawks earlier this season. (Photo by Ed McPherson / OJHL Images)

JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

The Wellington Dukes are offering a major assist to the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation and now its up to local hockey fans to help score the big goal.

The Ontario Junior Hockey League club announced this week they are initiating the Wellington Dukes Season Ticket Hospital Challenge. The organization is pledging to donate $20,000 to the Foundation if they reach their goal of selling 1,050 seasons tickets for the 2020-21 OJHL regular season.

The hockey club has seen a return to the top of the Jr. A hockey pecking order in recent years with an appearance in the 2018 Royal Bank Cup National Championship game, an 2019 Southeastern OJHL Conference playoff championship and a 2020 OJHL Regular Season Championship.

High tempo, top grade junior hockey is back in Prince Edward County and the timing has never been better to become a season ticket holder with the added benefit that getting on board with the Wellington Dukes now will help support the critical operations of the Foundation who are constantly raising money for capital equipment needs at PECMH as well as fundraising the community’s portion of the cost to redevelop our local hospital.

“The organization is always running that razor’s edge of being sustainable and we are consistently looking for ways to grow the fan base and get more people out to the Dukedome. Our dedicated and longstanding fans are the best in the OJHL but we are hoping to attract some new people through the door,” Vice President of Hockey Operations Randy Uens told the Gazette. “This is a great way to help us and help an essential resource in our community in the form of Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital and the critical work done by the Foundation.”

The Dukes are offering a steep discount to tickets during this challenge.

Adult seasons tickets are priced at $280 per seat for a 26 game home schedule which works out for a per game cost of $10.33, nearly $5 off the walk up ticket price.

Seniors season tickets for the 2020-21 campaign are $240 or $8.65 per game, a sale price of almost $4 per contest.

In the past, Wellington has furnished season ticket holders with a business card sized pass but Uens said the front office will be selling actual tickets this season to make it easier for families or groups to split games and for local businesses to offer tickets to employees and valued customers.

Foundation Executive Director Shannon Coull said her group was thrilled when the hockey club approached PECMHF with a season ticket drive that would support the fundraising arm of the local hospital.

Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Foundation Executive Director Shannon Coull. (Submitted Photo)

Coull confirmed the money raised though the challenge would go to the highest priority need, meaning that if there were shortfalls on capital equipment needs, the funding would be put towards those critical and necessary items that are needed to deliver excellent care at PECMH.

Should those funding requirements be met, the Dukes’ contribution would be used to “Back-the-Build” for the PECMH redevelopment project.

“The timing of something like this offer couldn’t be better considering the uncertainty we are facing,” Coull told the Gazette. “What we can be certain of is that our County hospital is equipped and is in good hands. The outpouring of support is heartwarming and reminds us that we are not in this fight alone.”

Coull added the proposed donation is something the entire community can rally around. 

“Not only does a project like this support our hospital but I look at it as a beacon of hope. This is a reminder there are brighter days ahead and life will go on and when it does, we will gather in groups and we are going to cheer on our favourite OJHL hockey team that has and will continue to represent our Prince Edward County community so well.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly created a new albeit temporary normal and it’s almost certainly delayed the Ministry of Health and Longterm Care’s announcement that the PECMH redevelopment project was about to enter the next stage in planning which would have led to shovels in the ground in a couple of years.

To healthcare reporters and those watching for the tell tale signs that such an announcement from the Government of Ontario was forthcoming, it seemed like this municipality was only days if not mere hours from such a historic moment.

That’s all been put on pause.

“Like a lot of people, we were anticipating an announcement just as COVID-19 came about,” Coull said. “It’s ok because times like these illustrate how vital our healthcare resources are and how Prince Edward County needs them to respond to a crisis like this. The need for a new PECMH is reinforced by a crisis like this. We are on pause but I strongly believe as soon as COVID-19 is in our rear-view we are going to get a big announcement that will be so well received  by our community.”

Until the day life returns to normal, it will be a course in imagination for local residents.

Imagining the big day of announcing the final process of starting a new hospital in Prince Edward County and  imagining the ability to gather and cheer on the Wellington Dukes.

“The hospital is the heart of the community and it means so much to our fan base and it resonates through everyone. We know we also represent the Prince Edward County community in every hockey circle across North America and the Wellington Dukes are an organization that strives to be known as a good global and corporate entity,” Uens added

For Dukes ticket sales, please call 613-476-2148 ext 5042 or visit www.wellingtondukes.com

For companies and sponsors looking to book season tickets and combine them with special advertising offers and promotions, contact Director of Sales and Marketing Kelly Martin at 905-914-7454.