Flyers Alumni Association and Flyers Cup Committee Team Up to Make a Little Girl Happy

By Rick Woelfel

Irregardless of the success of the team on the ice, the Philadelphia Flyers organization maintains strong ties to the community, and has since the franchise’s earliest days.

The Philadelphia Flyers Alumni Association has been instrumental in that effort.

Late Sunday afternoon, prior to the Flyers’ game against the San Jose Sharks, the alumni association, in conjunction with the Flyers Cup Committee, presented a bicycle to 6-year old Evangeline Torres as part of its Every Child Deserves a Bike campaign. Evangeline, who is a first grader, was born with Cerebellar Atrophy, a disorder that affects the nerves in the back of her brain and impacts her coordination and her ability to stand, walk, speak, and maintain her balance. Her new bike was modified to account for her medical issues.

The alumni association first donated a bike in December of 2020 as part of its 12 Days of Christmas Giving program. That was the catalyst for the Every Child Deserves a Bike effort. Today, the organization awards a bike each month, save for a pause in the winter months.

Brad Marsh is the Philadelphia Flyers Alumni Association president.

“This program puts a smile on a kid’s face right away,” he said. “It puts a smile on Mom and Dad’s face right away because so many kids with disabilities don’t get to ride a bike like most other children. “I’m a very avid bike rider, so I get a real kick out of this program, just seeing kids on bikes and riding.”

Atlantic Prep Athletic Conference Commissioner Jim Britt represented the Flyers Cup Committee at Sunday’s event. He stressed the importance of the Flyers Cup tournament’s involvement in the Every Child Should Have a Bike effort.

“This was a natural for the Flyers Cup Committee to talk this through,” he said. “We started a discussion about ‘What can we do for community service, for giving back?’

“(Flyers Cup Committee President) Eric Tye and (Flyers Director of Community Relations and Hockey Development) Rob Baer got their heads together and came up with this

“This was one of the easiest things that we could connect the dots with, It’s a great cause. It’s a special cause with the young lady who’s getting the bike, and it’s just a natural outgrowth of how everybody in the hockey community feels (about) giving back.”

Four high-school hockey players attended Sunday’s event. All four played for Flyers Cup championship teams in 2022.

Mason Zuber is a defenseman for Eastern (N.J.). “It’s really good to see people helping people out that are fortunate,” he said. “It’s sad to see how they have to live their lives and it’s good to bring them up in any way that you can.”

Samantha Scebelo skates for West Chester Henderson, the defending Flyers Cup girls’ champion.

“I’m honored that I get to be a part of this,” she said. “It’s great to give back to people. I have the opportunity to play hockey and I love to give that opportunity to other people and just five other people opportunities for whatever they want to do.”

Colin Dachowski, who helped Pennridge win the Class AA Flyers Cup last season, was happy to be part of the event. “It’s a pretty cool experience,” he said. “Representing our team and helping other people. Helping other people is great.”

Jimmy Jacobs skates for two-time defending Class AA Cup champion and defending APAC champion Malvern Prep. He understands the importance of connecting with the larger hockey community.

“I think it’s a big deal,” he said. “I do see there are bigger things than the APAC and when you come together as a community, I think it really shows who you are as a person and you’re doing something that I think is just a great thing in general.”

Evangeline Torres checks out her new bike

The Flyers organization partners with Help Hope Live to get bikes to children. For nearly four decades, Help Hope Live, which is based in Radnor, has worked to create networks of caring individuals to cover medical bills not covered by insurance. Kelly Green is the organization’s executive director.

“This is probably one of the most amazing partnerships we have,” she said. “What it gives a child who has some mobility challenges is a chance to be a kid again. To ride a bike and do things that we all did growing up, and to experience that independence and wind through the hair.

“Only, these kids, because of their mobility challenges, don’t necessarily have ways to expeience them. Parents can’t just go to the store and buy a bike for a couple hundred dollars. These bikes that we have made for them run about five to seven thousand dollars each and they grow with each kid. So these kids will have their bike for their entire lifetime.”

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