ST. CLOUD, Minn. — A 10-year-old St. Cloud girl had been resigned to not playing hockey this year because her family couldn't afford it. But now she's all signed up — and paid up — thanks to a tweet by a hockey dad and some help from former NHL star Theo Fleury.
Last week, Brent Pakkala learned his daughter's best friend could not play this winter because her family, which has six children, could not afford the $435 fee for all three girls who play hockey, WJON-AM reported (http://bit.ly/15666xE ). The girls' grandfather could afford only one fee, so the family decided the oldest would play and the other two would have to wait until next year.
Pakkala, the father of hockey-playing kids in Sauk Rapids and the official scorer for St. Cloud State hockey, had trouble accepting that.
He tweeted his favorite NHL player of all time but kept his hopes low. But Fleury quickly messaged back. After hearing the family's story, Fleury sent out a tweet to his 75,000 followers. Within hours, Pakkala had pledges of more than enough money to cover all the girls' fees — and more.
Then Pakkala got a phone call last Thursday from Fleury, asking if there was "anything else he could do to help."
"I would like to come down to Minnesota and raise some more money for youth hockey in St. Cloud, Sauk Rapids and the surrounding area," Fleury recalled him saying. "You never know, the next Wayne Gretzky could be walking among you."
Fleury offered to speak for no charge. Pakkala said he's now hoping to iron out the details and have him appear at St. Cloud State in November.