The Wenatchee Wild has announced that the NAHL team raised over $20,000 for the Mike Utley Foundation following a jersey auction held after it Feb. 21 game against the Kenai River Brown Bears.
Created after Mike Utley, a football player with the NFL’s Detroit Lions, was paralyzed during a game in 1991, the Mike Utley Foundation is designed to financially support an effective function-restoring treatment for spinal cord injuries, to encourage through education that of adopting a rehabilitative lifestyle for the spinal cord injured and a public awareness of spinal cord injuries.
A silent auction was also held throughout the game. In all, over $25,000 was raised with all proceeds going towards the Foundation.
The Town Toyota Center, Pepsi, Cherry Creek Radio and the Wenatchee Valley Senior Activity Center also contributed to the proceeds.
“On behalf of the Wild organization, I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to this cause,” said Wild president Bill Stewart.
On Nov. 17, 1991, Utley, an offensive guard, was paralyzed during a game against the Los Angeles Rams at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Mich. Utley’s courageous “Thumbs Up” gesture as he was carried from the field has come to symbolize his fighting spirit.
Stewart has been impressed with how the Wenatchee Valley community has embraced the Wild and its community-driven initiatives during its inaugural season.
“The support has been tremendous,” he said.