Back in 2008 the former Texas Wildcats of the East Coast Hockey League pulled up stakes and headed west to Ontario. As part of that initial local season, the organization sponsored a name-the-team contest in order to establish it and the sport in the Inland Valley.
Fontana resident Mike Brewster submitted the winning entry. And during the years, the bonds have continued to get stronger and stronger.
The Ontario Reign and its nonprofit arm, Hope Reigns Foundation, once again is partnering to help the community which welcomed it four years ago.
An Ontario Reign specialty affiliate jersey auction is set for Saturday at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. It all gets started at 6 p.m. Reigns players literally are giving the shirts off their backs - right after the game - in order to raise money. The beneficiaries this weekend will be the Hope Reigns Foundation, the Upland Community Foundation and the Upland Public Library.
This fundraising event joins a long list of others including a 2011 golf tournament helping Rancho Cucamonga Purple Heart recipient Justin Crabbe, who recently returned home for good after 15 months of rehabilitation and recovery.
"Our specialty jersey auction is a very popular event which provides us, the Hope Reigns Foundation, with a great opportunity to work with the community. The team is about to enter its fifth year here and we've loved every minute of it. This event in particular is a fun way to get up close and personnel with our players. Hopefully, we encourage fans to come out and to invite people who haven't been to a game to join us for a good cause. It really is a win/win situation," said Justin Kemp, president of the Ontario Reign and the Hope Reigns Foundation.
Kemp said partnerships have been a key aspect of the Reign's relationship with the Inland Valley since the very beginning.
"We have a responsibility to give back to the community which supports us," Kemp said.
"But this is something we enjoy doing and we've been successful at it."
Some other past community beneficiaries have been the American Red Cross, the Humane Society of the San Bernardino Valley, the Stater Bros. community outreach programs and the University of La Verne scholarship fund.
"We try to encompass a broad range of nonprofits just as long as the funds that we help raise stay locally," he said.
One of the Hope Reigns Foundation community partners is the Rancho Cucamonga law firm, Walker & Mann. The firm has reserved a Sky Suite at the Citizens Business Bank Arena for the event Saturday with the cost of the suite to benefit the fundraiser.
Again, this is another example of neighbors helping neighbors. Walker & Mann is headed by Jeff Walker and Doug Mann. Since 2007, it has helped nonprofits in various ways. The firm is a member of the Francis Mary Paul Circle of donors at the San Antonio Community Hospital Foundation in Upland. It also has helped Steven's Hope in Upland as well as the Upland Community Foundation.
"Walker & Mann assists these various organizations by supporting their fundraising efforts by sponsoring events, volunteering time, volunteering legal services, collecting gifts for auctions as well as donating legal time for auction and promoting of events via social media," said Yvette Walker, spokeswoman for the firm.
The firm is proud to participate on Saturday.
"Our hope in supporting these worthy organizations is to encourage the business community to be active and involved in their community, know what's going on around them and to do what they can to be a part of something for the greater good. You never know, it may be your neighbor you're helping," Walker said.
"The Reign does so much for the community as a whole from the Loma Linda Ronald McDonald House to Justin Crabbe. They all put so much heart into what they do, pure passion. I'm just humbled by the opportunity to be a small part of it all. I view this as an opportunity to show others that they are not forgotten, the way complete strangers showed compassion for my family as a child upon the unexpected loss of my father."
The Upland Parks and Recreation Department is selling fundraising tickets to the game for $19 each. A portion of each ticket sale will be donated to the community foundation, the library and the Hope Reigns Foundation. For information, call 909-931-4280. The Upland Parks and Recreation Department office is closed on Fridays.
Information about the game, call the Reign at 909-941-7825.
Contact Suzanne via email.