Blue Devils’ Rivera raises $20,500 for stroke center

Submitted Photo Pictured from left to right are Dr. Elad Levy, director of stroke research and co-director of the Kaleida Health Stroke Center, Luke Rivera, a college hockey player at Fredonia State, Dr. Robert N. Sawyer, Jr., co-director of the Kaleida Health Stroke Center and Dr. David Janicke, medical director of the Buffalo General Medical Center/Gates Vascular Institute Emergency Department.

Special to the OBSERVER

BUFFALO — Fredonia men’s hockey player Luke Rivera presented donations Monday, Feb. 26 worth $20,500 to the Gates Vascular Stroke Center of Buffalo.

Rivera, a junior, raised $10,883 through the Blue Devils’ second Stroke Awareness Game on Dec. 1, 2017. In addition, the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation made a $500 donation in Rivera’s name. He is one of five finalists for the Foundation’s annual award, which will be announced in March and presented in April at the NCAA Division 1 Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minn.

“It’s been a very personal experience,” Rivera said during the check presentation, surrounded by doctors from the Stroke Center. “My mom suffered a stroke when I was 14 or 15 and it really impacted my family’s life … It just hit me in the heart.”

Rivera’s mom, Dana, has battled back from her stroke — suffered about eight years ago — and now serves as an advocate and motivational speaker for other stroke survivors.

Her son, one of three to play college hockey, organized the Stroke Awareness Game following his freshman year. Both games pitted the Blue Devils against the Potsdam Bears, the team for which his older brother Jake played. Out of action this year because of an injury, Luke Rivera has remained active in team activities, including community engagement.

“Luke’s work in the Stroke Awareness Game,” Blue Devil Head Coach Jeff Meredith said, “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.”

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