SUNY Fredonia’s Rivera makes HHA’s Final Five

Special to the OBSERVER

Fredonia junior hockey player Luke Rivera is a finalist for the prestigious Hockey Humanitarian Award, a spokesman for the foundation making the award announced today.

Rivera and four collegiate hockey players were selected as the final five from a group of 11 players from across the nation. He was nominated for his community service, particularly his work as the driving force behind Fredonia’s annual Stroke Awareness Game.

Rivera’s motivation is his mother, Dana, who battled back from a stroke that had left her paralyzed from head to toe. He had seen her undergo surgeries and rehab and get better and make speaking appearances to motivate other stroke survivors.

Inspired by his mom, Rivera approached Head Coach Jeff Meredith and asked to start a Stroke Awareness Game the following season. Camouflage red jerseys were ordered, a date was picked, and donations were solicited. The first event raised nearly $10,000, the second another $10,000 for The Foundation of Kaleida Health.

Even though Rivera missed the entire 2017-18 season with an injury, he remained part of the team and its community engagement. Said Meredith: “Luke’s work in the Stroke Awareness Game is testament to who he is as a young man and the level of care he has. Since his arrival in Fredonia he has wanted to make a difference in our community, and he truly has.”

The other finalists are senior forward Camil Blanchet of Bowdoin, senior forward Courtney Pensavalle of Yale, redshirt senior goaltender Sidney Peters of Minnesota, and senior forward Lauren Spring of Ohio State.