The Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation announced five finalists for the 2024 Hockey Humanitarian Award, presented annually to college hockey’s “finest citizen” for leadership in community service.
Hank Kempf (Wilmette, Ill.), Junior, Defense, Cornell University
Kempf founded the “Big Red Blocks for Healing” campaign that is raising funds for Kesem, a national charitable organization that supports children who are affected by a parent’s cancer. The fundraiser is nearing $6,000 in pledges alone and hopes to raise up to $15,000. In addition to Kempf’s campaign, he has been active within the Cornell and Ithaca communities, aiding several not-for-profit organizations and helping a diverse array of community members. His efforts have included: supporting the Newfield Schools Mentor Program; working with the Racker Center, which provides strength-based support for individuals with disabilities and their families; and participating in local fundraisers for cancer research. He has also been active with the Portal de Belen Foundation, participating and leading the Cornell men’s hockey team’s service trip to the Dominican Republic this past summer, where the group spent time building a community service center, distributing clothing, shoes, and food to those in need, and participating in other acts of service. The group also provided computers, school supplies and sports equipment to local schools and played baseball nightly with the community’s kids.
Dylan Lugris (Buffalo, N.Y.), Junior, Forward, Penn State University
Lugris formed a strong bond with the local sled hockey organization, the State College Coyotes, after arriving on campus in 2021. He started attending their weekly practices and encouraged teammates to join him as he learned more and more about the sport of sled hockey and the Coyotes organization. In an effort to make a difference for a struggling organization that only practiced once a week and did not compete in actual games, Dylan came up with the idea of the Penn State Sled Hockey Classic last January. His mission is to grow the game of hockey while bringing awareness and knowledge to the sport of sled hockey and to provide the Coyotes the means necessary for organizational growth. As a result of his efforts, a charity sled hockey scrimmage between the Coyotes and the Penn State men’s hockey team at Pegula Ice Arena in front of the passionate Penn State fan base was held. All preparation and in-arena logistics were managed solely by Dylan and his Penn State teammates. Since the initial Penn State Sled Hockey Classic in February 2023, the Coyotes have more than doubled in roster size and are now proud members of the Northeast Sled Hockey League. The Coyotes compete in multiple games per month thanks in large part to the nearly $50,000 Dylan and his Penn State teammates have raised for the organization over the past year.
Jack Quinn (Lancaster, Mass.), Senior, Forward, Long Island University
Through his years at LIU, Jack Quinn has reached hundreds of people with his altruistic spirit and servant heart. Jack truly embraces the maxim “never underestimate the impact you can have on someone else’s life.” Standing in the gap for those in need has been a theme throughout Jack’s life and has carried over with distinction throughout his collegiate career. Jack does not limit himself to serving just one group, but rather a wide range of individuals across multiple organizations, stepping in wherever there is a need. To this end, Jack has taken the initiative to lead on-ice events with a number of youth hockey organizations in Long Island year round, including practices/clinics with the Long Island Gulls, Long Island Arrows, Beaver Dam, P.A.L. Islanders and NY Islanders Learn-To-Skate program. He has participated in the Hockey Helps Marathon to raise funds for local charities and led LIU with the Island Harvest Food Bank Drive, a hunger-relief organization with a mission to end hunger on Long Island. Jack similarly took the lead role with LIU Hockey in preparing Thanksgiving meals for Long Island families in need through an organization called Carroll’s Kitchen. Jack also spent many hours finding homes for rescued animals in LIU’s Pet Adoption Program and volunteering to raise awareness regarding heart disease with the American Heart Association. In addition, two organizations that Jack has been particularly close to, and to which he continues to dedicate his service, are the Long Island Warriors, a hockey program consisting solely of military veterans who use hockey as therapy in coping with physical and mental disabilities; and to the Hockey in Harlem program which provides inner city youth with access to hockey.
Raice Szott (Daysland, Alberta), Senior, Defense, Merrimack College
Szott has developed, coordinated and participated in several events and initiatives that exemplify Merrimack’s mission to engage and support the community. Szott launched the Merrimack College Women’s Hockey Community Service Committee, which has led to several volunteer and fundraising opportunities in the Merrimack Valley. She has coordinated fundraisers to support local nonprofits, including first responders and the Ellie Fund, a local foundation that assists men and women suffering from breast cancer. Szott has coordinated volunteers for Merrimack’s Relay For Life, local girls’ hockey programs and after-school programs at local elementary schools. In addition, Szott oversaw logistics for a number of events, including: a teddy bear toss at a Merrimack College women’s ice hockey home game to benefit Toys for Tots; multiple Skating Strides games for the Ellie Fund; and a team event for the school’s “Relay for Life Walk” this coming April. Szott also created a program dedicated to teaching and mentoring young girls to help them build confidence through ice skating and hockey.
Sarah Thompson (Ottawa, Ontario), Senior, Forward, Syracuse University
Thompson launched ‘Sticks Together’ two years ago to provide children in disadvantaged areas opportunities to learn and grow through the sport of ice hockey. She has led humanitarian trips to Buenos Aires, Argentina, aiming to reach families living in low-income communities where opportunities for children to learn and play sports can be few and far between; and to Muizenberg, South Africa, where the focus was to provide an opportunity for children whose schools lack the funds and resources to provide physical education classes for their students. Thompson is currently planning a similar trip this summer to Tigman Village, Palawan. As a part of the ‘Sticks Together’ initiative, Thompson partners with CARHA Hockey and Play It Again Sports to collect recycled hockey sticks and other street hockey equipment to use during the trips and then donate to the schools.
Gabbie Hughes from Minnesota Duluth was honored as the 2023 recipient of the Hockey Humanitarian Award.
The 29th recipient of the Hockey Humanitarian Award will be honored in a ceremony on Friday, April 12 as part of the NCAA Men’s Frozen Four weekend in Staint Paul, Minnesota. Additionally, the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation will make a donation to the charity most important to each of the five finalists. These donations are made possible with the generous support of the award’s partners and donors.