Jaromir Jagr-led benefit game raises over $160K for Ukrainian families
The Jaromir Jagr-led benefit game between Rytíři Kladno and HC Sparta Prague on Tuesday raised over $160,000 dollars for Ukrainian families who fled to the Czech Republic following Russia’s invasion.
All proceeds will benefit the Food Bank for Prague and Central Bohemia.
Sparta won the game 4-1, but that was the least important part of the evening.
“I would like to thank all the people who took part in it,” Jagr said afterward, “because even though the score shows that one won and the other lost I think that everyone won.”
In a matter of days, Jagr, who owns Kladno, was able to have the game moved from their home rink, Rocknet Arena, which has a capacity of 5,250, to Prague’s O2 Arena, which saw 14,512 fans inside.
Along with standard tickets, virtual tickets were also sold to help with the fundraising. A jersey auction ends Sunday featuring those of Jagr, Tomas Plekanec and other Kladno players. The NHL also assisted, donating $68,000 in honor of the 50-year-old future Hall of Famer’s number.
We salute Jaromir Jagr (@68Jagr) for his generosity and commitment to improve the lives of Ukrainians displaced from their homes.— NHL (@NHL) March 8, 2022
We are proud to support the cause and will be donating $68,000 to the fundraising effort.
Click here to add your support: https://t.co/tZzI3JU9VI pic.twitter.com/tVTqb0kPDK
“It is a great gesture,” Jagr said of the NHL’s help. “I have to personally shoot a video and thank the entire NHL, not only for the amount they donated but also for the promotion of this game. I think that thanks to [the NHL], every hockey fan knows about this game. And that is a great thing, maybe even greater than the money itself.”
Not a normal game
Players entered the ice together, shook hands afterwards, and fans held up Ukrainian flags in support. The Ukraine national anthem was played before puck drop. It was an emotional evening in the regular-season finale for both teams -- one that took on a greater meaning than just hockey.
“I am terribly sorry to see mothers and children say goodbye to their fathers, take one bag and have to leave their country while fathers go to war and do not know if they will ever see their loved ones again,” said Jagr, who wears No. 68 to remember 1968, which was the year the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia following the Prague Spring.
“There were some scores on the board today after the match, but I think they are all winners. Today, it was something other than points in the table and I’m glad that people understand.”
Follow NBC News for up-to-date coverage of the Russia-Ukraine conflict