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Justin A. Cohn

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Tragedy hits home, spurs auction

– The truth is, I thought I would raise $600.

Movies have always been one of my biggest passions. That someone in Aurora, Colo., would prey on people while they watched the latest “Batman” flick incensed me.

That one of my best friends lived near Aurora, and I couldn’t reach her for a couple hours, made it even worse.

Then I heard about Jessica Redfield, an aspiring hockey reporter who knew some people I knew and was one of 12 who died in the shootings last week, and I was angry.

I had access so athletes. I had a platform – my blog at The Journal Gazette – so I figured I could raise a couple bucks to help.

Less than a week later, Ice Chips for Aurora has gotten – and I don’t know any other way to put this – huge.

As of Thursday afternoon, 46 items were up for auction – all but four of them having received bids – and pledges totaled more $3,200 to go to help the Aurora victims.

More items are being offered up every day.

It started with me throwing in things of my own. I text-messaged a few Komets players who said they would offer up items like signed hockey sticks, bobbleheads and jerseys, since local hockey fans have always been so hungry for memorabilia, especially when it goes to charity.

Now, items are coming in from all over North America. Players I’ve never spoken to, or who have been hated rivals of Fort Wayne, have contacted me about sending items. Larry Sterling, perhaps the most jeered man in the history of Memorial Coliseum, is sending a signed goalie mask and a jersey.

The Komets, TinCaps and Mad Ants have chipped in, too, and leagues like the NHL and ECHL have contacted me.

I don’t have a clue how much money we’ll end up earning now, but I know I’m totally amazed. It’s not just that athletes have been so giving – most are shipping items on their own dime and giving items that might seem awkward for them, like the stick Charlie Effinger used in the Game 7 loss to the Komets in the Turner Conference finals last spring – but it’s also what the fans are doing.

These are tough economic times and not everyone has money to offer, so fans have been donating items out of their memorabilia collections, sometimes without even giving me their names. Items like a signed Sparky Anderson Hall of Fame induction photo and a stick signed by almost the entire 2010 Komets championship team just appeared on my desk.

A Komets fan, Alee Relue, is making orange-and-black bracelets for $5 a pop.

Someone went up to a co-worker the other day, stuck a $50 bill in his hands and said, “Give this to Justin.”

And not everything we have is sports related. Author Sara Gruen will inscribe signed copies of best-sellers “Water for Elephants” and “Ape House.”

All of the money will go to the Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance.

To see the items available for auction, go to www.journalgazette.net/article/20120722/BLOGS11/120729904.

I continually have updates on the “Ice Chips” blog at www.journalgazette.net, and you can like the “Ice Chips for Aurora” page on Facebook and follow me on Twitter @jgkomets.

To bid on items, email me at jcohn@jg.net.

Justin A. Cohn is a writer for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1997. He can be reached by email jcohn@jg.net; phone, 461-8429; or fax 461-8648.

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