A standing-room only crowd of nearly 800 hockey fans came out on Jan. 7 to watch a dozen former Boston Bruins players take the ice at the Jackman L. Stewart Athletic Center.
The exhibition game between the Bruins Alumni team and hockey players from the Berkshire County area was organized as a fundraiser to benefit the Renzi Family Scholarship Fund at Berkshire. Tickets to the event were sold for $20, helping to raise over $54,000 for the scholarship.
"This was truly a spectacular event," said event organizer Deb Renzi, who created the scholarship in memory of her late husband, Michael, who passed away in 2015.
"It's an honor remembering Mike—the man he was and the lives he touched. The scholarship honors his life, his belief in the gift of education with the hope of creating a lasting, positive influence on recipients."
Renzi, 50, grew up in nearby Pittsfield and volunteered as a youth hockey coach for two decades. He was an avid Bruins fan, according to his wife. The pair sent their two youngest children, Matthew '13 and Jared '16, to Berkshire where they both played hockey. While the main draw of the evening for fans was getting to watch the likes of former NHL players Rick Middleton, Bob Sweeney and Reggie Lemlin take the ice, it was clear the crowd was honoring a man who touched many in the community.
"Our friendship allowed me to witness how to live, how to have fun but most importantly how to love," said Greg Shine, a family friend who helped to serve as emcee during the game.
Deb Renzi said the outpouring of donations from the community, including many local businesses, was "overwhelming."
The Renzi Family Scholarship will be awarded annually, with preference going to students from Berkshire County. The first scholarship will be awarded this spring, according to Berkshire Director of Advancement, Rob Schur.
As for the game, the Bruins Alumni team won 10-5.
"In a game that served as such a great testament to Berkshire School, the Boston Bruins organization, and the level of support we've received with the scholarship, to see a crowd like that is indescribable," said Jared Renzi. "There are simply no words that could give that kind of feeling justice. But what I will say is this: on behalf of my father, thank you."