HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Huntsville Havoc will host its 10th annual Melissa George night Saturday. It’s a night for the organization to give back to the community and help give babies a fighting chance to survive. And this year, it means even more to the team and its owner.
Havoc team owner Keith Jeffries says, “It is my favorite night of the year and it has been since we started.” He brought the Huntsville Havoc to the Von Braun Center 12 years ago. He had no idea hockey fans and the community would embrace Melissa George night the way they do. “No, we had no clue,” he told us. “Still are amazed and grateful and humbled when people start bidding and those numbers go up. “
In the past nine years, the organization has raised more than $418,000 by auctioning the sticks players use during warmup and the special jerseys they wear during the game. Jeffries added, “ We both know that it’s not all about us. I mean, what comes to us, we’re supposed to give back. I’m just thankful we have an opportunity to do it with hockey.”
Giving back became even more important to Keith and his wife Becky last year. When their granddaughter was born, she spent a week in the regional NICU because of some health problems. “ It was unexpected,” Keith said, “But there’s a comfort to know how good these doctors and nurses are and how modern the equipment and the facilities are.”
They never imagined their family would benefit from the money they helped raise. “Alannah Grace was there so it was a blessing that we could help do this and they could take care of her,” Becky Jeffries told us, “But no, I never thought it could affect our family.”
After Becky and Keith visited the unit for the first time several years ago, she suggested the players should go to the NICU too so they could see for themselves what they’re playing for on that special night. “They give it everything they’ve got every time they get on the ice,” Becky said. “But this one night, after they see it and visit the NICU they give it everything and then some cause now they know what they’re playing for and it makes a huge difference.”
The visit to see the babies and meet the parents has become an important part of getting ready for the game. Keith added, “It has made a huge difference in the players.”
Regardless of the score at the end of three periods, the real winners of the night are the babies who are fighting to survive a few blocks from the ice and the thousands fans who turn out to help the Huntsville Havoc score another victory raising money to keep those tiny little miracles alive.
If you can’t make it to the game Saturday, January 16th, you can still donate to the cause. Just text the word Havoc to 41444.