#StrazStrong hats raise funds to support Alberta player injured in Humboldt Broncos bus crash
Ryan Straschnitzki, 18, suffered a spinal cord injury in the collision
Those who know Ryan Straschnitzki say the Airdrie, Alta., teenager was always in a league of his own when it came to physical strength.
That strength is something friends and family of the 18-year-old say he'll need, as Straschnitzki recovers in hospital from a spinal cord injury. Nicknamed 'Straz', he is one of the Humboldt Broncos injured in the devastating crash that claimed the lives of 15 members of a junior hockey team on Friday.
To support Straschnitzki and his family, friend and boxing coach Cody Thompson has started a fundraiser selling hats labelled with #strazstrong and a number 10 — Straschnitzki's number with the Humboldt Broncos — stitched in the team's colours of green and gold.
After two days, Thompson said they've sold more than 100 hats and he is promising all profit to the Straschnitzki family.
The cost to make the caps is $10 and they're being sold for $30 on Facebook under the hashtag #strazstrong, with some people voluntarily paying more.
Money to fund long-term medical costs
Thompson doesn't want his fundraiser to detract from a successful GoFundMe campaign to support everyone affected by the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.
"The amount of money that's been raised is incredible but a lot of times these numbers hit something that seems large and we lose perspective that this is going to be split between 29 different entities," said Thompson.
"Even $10 million split … the financial hardship can be something that is immense."
Straschnitzki was supposed to work for his friend and coach at the White Collar Boxing Company gym this summer. Thompson said schedules were already set and if the Broncos had lost the game they never made it to in Nipawin, Sask., Straz would have returned to Airdrie and worked his first shift at the gym on Tuesday.
"[Straz] was a very big part of our community, part of the fabric of the hockey community within Airdrie," said Thompson.
Straschnizki's job will be waiting for him at the gym whenever he's ready to come back, according to Thompson. The 18-year-old is currently recovering in hospital.
Straschnitzki's father, Tom, said Ryan couldn't feel anything below his waist as of Saturday before undergoing surgery.
We may not agree on Politics. But we sure do agree on Support. sure am proud our Prime Minister and his son showing up and chatting hockey. Thank you very much. <a href="https://t.co/czD3BXhPTJ">pic.twitter.com/czD3BXhPTJ</a>—@strazsr
There were 29 people on the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team's bus when a transport truck collided with it near Tisdale, Sask., on Friday. Fifteen people were killed and 14 injured. The driver of the truck was not hurt.
A vigil was held at the Elgar Petersen Arena in Humboldt, Sask., to mourn the victims on Sunday night.
Thompson said he was devastated when he heard about the crash.
"It was the worst call I could imagine getting," he said.
Canada's hockey community is tight-knit, and Straschnitzki wasn't the only person Thompson knew on the bus that night.
Coach Darcy Haugan, who died in the collision, was Thompson's hockey coach during his rookie year with the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
Our deepest condolences go out to all the Humboldt Broncos. I had the pleasure of playing my rookie year with Coach Darcy Haugan with the Bonnyville Pontiacs. He was a great guy in the room and a wonderful human being. You will be missed Hogie. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/prayforhumbolt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#prayforhumbolt</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PrayersForHumbolt?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PrayersForHumbolt</a>—@whitecollarboxr
Thompson hopes the fundraiser will help people cope with the shock of the tragedy.
"It's still very hard, I think for all of us, dealing and understanding where Ryan's going to be. And knowing that we're going to be going through this and that the plan we had isn't going to take place," he said.
With files from Dave Dormer