AVALANCHE

Feeding Families: Joe Sakic’s legacy with Food Bank of the Rockies

Aug 10, 2022, 6:37 AM | Updated: 8:41 am
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 27: Former NHL player Joe Sakic is introduced during the NHL 100 presente...
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Colorado Avalanche legend Joe Sakic wasn’t at the exclusive Sanctuary Golf Course on a sun-drenched Tuesday afternoon in Sedalia for the first time in years as the 25th Food Bank of the Rockies Golf Classic launched its first drive high into the clear, blue sky. But his presence was felt nevertheless.

Sakic, along with his wife, Debbie, had headlined the charity tournament for nearly a quarter of a century, drawing needed attention to the growing problem of food insecurity, especially for children, in Colorado’s rapidly expanding communities. Over the years, the event has generated enough money to pay for more than 12 million meals; a stunning accomplishment that illustrates both the efficiency of Food Bank of the Rockies’ targeted operations, and Sakic’s desire to bring continued attention to the issue.

While Sakic, obviously busy with steering the Avalanche to the Stanley Cup championship this season, has removed his family’s name from the event after nearly a quarter-century, Joe and Debbie remain key sponsors, and the Golf Classic continued to steam along on Tuesday, raising funds that will end up as more than 1.2 million more meals for Colorado’s needy families.

“We’re grateful that many of the original founders of this tournament are still dedicating their time and energy to its success. In fact, with their dedication, this tournament raised double what the first tournament achieved 25 years ago,” Food Bank of the Rockies Chief Development Officer Jennifer Lackey said.

The event has evolved over the years, from the tournament itself to a two-day affair with a banquet and auction, and now back to basics once more, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced Sakic and the event committee to adjust to the rapidly changing world — but the focus never wavered, and Food Bank of the Rockies never even slowed down, as the pandemic itself accelerated Colorado’s food-insecurity concerns.

As schools start their fall seasons, Food Bank of the Rockies’ “Totes of Hope,” created over a decade ago in concert with the Sakics, is ready to spring into action once more, bolstered by the meals raised by the Golf Classic. Children are most deeply impacted by food insecurity, and finding a way to get children and their families the food they need is complicated by the fact that the neediest kids are too often ostracized by their fellow students. “Totes of Hope” cleverly navigates around that challenge by filling the children’s backpacks with the necessary food for seven meals while they’re at school, allowing them to easily scoop up their now-full backpacks up on their way home with none the wiser.

“Thanks to community support through this tournament, thousands of children can count on totes to ensure they don’t go hungry over the weekend,” Lackey explained.

“We’re grateful for Joe and Debbie Sakic’s leadership and generosity over the past 25 years, bringing their enthusiasm and hopes to the Food Bank of the Rockies Golf Classic event when Joe was new to Denver, and still today — during the pinnacle of Joe’s career,” Food Bank of the Rockies President & CEO Erin Pulling said.

The Sakics’ labor of love has now bridged a generation, and even more importantly, they’ve set something in motion that will continue to serve Colorado’s communities for generations to come.

“Funds raised through this event are more critically important now than any time in Food Bank of the Rockies’ 44-year history. With skyrocketing food and freight costs and decreases in donated and USDA food, Food Bank of the Rockies has tripled the amount of money spent on food in the past two-and-one-half years, now averaging more than $1.3 million per month,” Pulling continued. “These funds will help Food Bank of the Rockies continue to prioritize fresh produce, culturally responsive food, and increased food distributions for people having to make choices between putting food on the table and paying their rent. On behalf of Food Bank of the Rockies’ 800-plus Hunger Relief Partners and people experiencing food insecurity, we are tremendously grateful!”

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At least one in every seven Colorado residents have struggled with food insecurity over the last year. For more information regarding how Food Bank of the Rockies serves the community, visit their website to find out how you can help and to volunteer.

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Feeding Families: Joe Sakic’s legacy with Food Bank of the Rockies