Entertainment

Country Thunder to host benefit concert for Humboldt Broncos

The Humboldt Broncos are getting even more support, this time in the form of a live benefit concert.

It is accurate, yet understated, to suggest that the hockey community is rallying around the Humboldt Broncos.

“I think we have to reclassify it, because it’s an outpouring from everybody,” SJHL president Bill Chow said Thursday. “I can’t tell you why, but I can tell you that it’s enormous.

“Maybe we’re trying to find something good out of all this.”

In the aftermath of a tragic bus accident in which 16 people were killed and 13 others were injured, the Broncos have received world-wide support. For example, a GoFundMe campaign surpassed $10 million in donations Thursday, six days after the Broncos’ bus collided with a semi-trailer truck near Tisdale.

“Somebody asked me for inspiration, so I sent my friend these notes and I said, ‘Every day, you wake up and think of doing something positive,’ ” Chow said. “So maybe everybody’s waking up that day and they want to do something positive, and that’s what they’re doing.”

In that spirit, Country Thunder Music Festivals — which runs the annual music festival in Craven — announced at a Thursday media conference that a benefit concert will be held April 27 at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.

“One of the best ways to heal is music,” Country Thunder vice-president of operations Ted Gross said at the Ramada Plaza Regina, adding that proceeds from the event will go to the families of the Broncos’ players and those who survived.

Country Thunder’s CEO, Troy Vollhoffer, rode the buses when he played in the WHL with the Saskatoon Blades, Winnipeg (now Moose Jaw) Warriors, New Westminster Bruins and Regina Pats.

“He played in the ’80s, so this is very close to him,” Gross said of Vollhoffer. “Hockey and country music are a major part of his life and he wanted to do something.

“One of the first things that he thought about was doing a benefit concert, so with our connections and our industry connections, it’s really easy for us to reach out to major artists and talk to them about this. That’s where the concept developed very rapidly. Saskatoon is the natural place, because it is the largest arena in the province.”

Gross added that artists had been booked for the tribute concert, but declined to provide specifics. Details are to be announced early next week.

Also on Thursday, Cindy Fuchs — vice-president of the Canadian Red Cross in Saskatchewan — said her organization will support the SJHL with pyscho-social first-aid programming.

The objective, according to Fuchs, is to “help families, players, personnel with the SJHL understand the effects of stress, loss and grief on themselves and others.”

Earlier this week, the league established the SJHL Assistance Program to raise funds to help people connected with the league deal with tragic events.

“We thought, moving forward, that we would need to put some things into place to assist someone, because I don’t know when someone’s going to need counselling or is grieving from whatever situation that they’ve had to deal with,” Chow said. “If we can make things better for them five years down the road, great.”

The SJHL’s season has been on hold since the accident. On Wednesday, the league’s board of governors held a conference call and voted 12-0 in favour of resuming the season. Support from the Broncos was a vital component of the decision.

“It was important, because if they weren’t in favour, then that had to be considered, and considered a lot because they’re a partner in our organization,” Chow said. “Yes, they’re only one vote, but they’re still a partner and it’s important to understand what partners want and don’t want. It’s a good thing that we didn’t have to consider that option moving forward. It was positive in that regard.”

The Estevan Bruins clinched a berth in the league final on April 5. Nipawin led Humboldt 3-1 in a best-of-seven semi-final at the time of the accident.

The Canalta Cup series is to begin Saturday, 7:30 p.m., in Nipawin. When asked about the plans to honour the Broncos at the game, Chow responded: “I’m sure it’ll be special.”

rvanstone@postmedia.com

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