$27K raised for scholarship in memory of Burnaby firefighter, NHLer after sudden death

Click to play video: '$27K raised for scholarship in memory of Burnaby firefighter after sudden death'
$27K raised for scholarship in memory of Burnaby firefighter after sudden death
The Richmond Sockeyes honoured Ray Sawada in a jersey retirement ceremony, Thursday night – Nov 17, 2023

It was an emotional night in Richmond on Thursday evening as tribute was paid to former pro hockey player and Burnaby firefighter Ray Sawada.

Sawada passed away suddenly during a recreational hockey game back in April.

The Richmond Sockeyes honoured Sawada Thursday evening, retiring his number 27 before their game, raising it to the rafters to hang at Minoru Arena.

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Sawada was a star player for the team 20 years ago from 2001 to 2003 before eventually moving on to the NHL. He was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the second round of the 2004 NHL draft.

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A scholarship has been created in Sawada’s name, and Thursday’s jersey retirement event raised more than $27,000 for the fund.

“Ray was a tremendous family man. He was a caring individual and he was always about other people and not about himself,” said Doug Patterson, Richmond Sockeyes president.

“As a hockey player, he was extremely hard-working. He was very competitive and he was all around just a super, super guy.”

Click to play video: 'Former NHL player, Burnaby firefighter dies'
Former NHL player, Burnaby firefighter dies

His wife and two daughters attended to watch their dad and husband’s old number rise high above the crowd.

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A GoFundMe was created to help support Sawada’s family at the time of his death. It has raised more than $370,000, far exceeding its goal of $50K.

“For the girls and Nicole, losing their dad and husband is going to leave a sad mark on their hearts and make for a long road ahead,” Brianne Saeshima said, the fundraiser’s organizer.

“From the family, we are truly grateful for the love and support that we have already received. We appreciate every single message and act of kindness. We feel the love. It gives us reassurance that throughout this sad and difficult time, there are so many who love and care for the family.”

Sawada was 38 years old at the time of his death.

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