Union County News

Westfield 13-Year-Old Organizes Police vs. Firefighters Charity Hockey Tournament

Spring Classic organizer Ben Handwerker and Officer Tara Hannen Credits: Gianine Handwerker

WESTFIELD, NJ — Members of the Westfield fire and police departments will hit the ice on Saturday, June 2 for the second annual Spring Classic hockey game. This year, all funds raised will be donated to Westfield resident and Rahway police officer Tara Hannan, who is battling breast cancer.

The event begins at 5 p.m. at Union Sports Arena on Route 22. Game tickets are $10, and additional money will be raised with raffles.

This year’s Spring Classic is once again organized by 13-year-old Westfield resident Ben Handwerker, with the help of his family. The 2017 game raised more than $10,000 for the family of fallen Westfield firefighter Michael Lanza. Handwerker has set a fundraising goal of $20,000 for this year’s game.

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“We decided when we started the game that the money raised would go to a local person or family that needed it,” said Handwerker’s mother, Gianine. “When the discussions started this year about who to raise the money for, word had started to spread that a Rahway police officer was battling Stage 4 breast cancer. As we got more information about it, we learned Officer Tara Hannan was a Westfield resident.  So the decision was made that this would be a perfect fit.”

Gianine Handwerker explained the motivation behind the annual hockey game.

“Ben has always been aware of people not being as fortunate as he is,” she said.  “When he was 7, he asked that his friends bring baby supplies instead of presents for his birthday. By then he had also started using his love of hockey to raise money for various organizations. He also knew that there were a few police officers who played hockey and figured a few firefighters probably did too. Ben brought the idea for a charity game to one of the officers he knew through their shared love of hockey, and from there the idea of the game was created.”

To buy advance tickets for the Spring Classic charity hockey game, click here.

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