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New Brunswick community wins Kraft Hockeyville contest in memory of local teen

Dawn Dunn fights back tears sharing the story of her son, Thomas. The community rallied behind the family following his death in June, and a Kraft Hockeyville bid for arena upgrades was made in his name.
Dawn Dunn fights back tears sharing the story of her son, Thomas. The community rallied behind the family following his death in June, and a Kraft Hockeyville bid for arena upgrades was made in his name. Callum Smith / Global News

The rural community of Renous, N.B., has won this year’s edition of the Kraft Hockeyville contest, earning $250,000 for upgrades to their local rink and a chance to host an NHL game.

But for the community, the story behind their triumph is as meaningful as the win itself.

The local campaign bid was announced in honour of Thomas Dunn, a 14-year-old from outside of Blackville, N.B., who tragically passed away following a dirt bike accident in June.

READ MORE: N.B. community rallies to support rink project following tragedy

“He was just a good kid all around,” said Dawn Dunn, the teenager’s mother, earlier this week.

“He was that kid on the playground that if someone was being bullied, he stepped in.”

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Renous was announced as the contest’s winner on Saturday and the win comes after a community campaign. Signage and poster were hung across Renous and the surrounding areas, including the Blackville School where Thomas attended elementary and junior high.

Many displays for the national contest feature ‘T6,’ standing for Thomas and his hockey jersey number.

But support for Renous went beyond the town. It garnered attention in the provincial legislature.

“People from all over Canada. The schools are abuzz, the community is abuzz,” said Southwest Miramichi-Bay du Vin MLA Jake Stewart.

“We need this win for New Brunswick.”

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The provincial RCMP detachment encouraged people to vote for the town, while Boston Bruins star Brad Marchand, a member of the Moncton Wildcats from 2004-2006, tweeted in support of Renous as well.

The Tom Donovan Arena is reportedly in need of an estimated $400,000 in repairs, according to Raymond Singleton, the rink manager.

Repairs include fixing the refrigeration unit, replacing emergency exits and fixing up the main entryway.

WATCH: New Brunswick town rallies behind campaign to transform hockey arena, honour memory of dead teen

New Brunswick town rallies behind campaign to transform hockey arena, honour memory of dead teen
New Brunswick town rallies behind campaign to transform hockey arena, honour memory of dead teen

The repairs would also allow the arena to establish an actual dressing room for girls. Sometimes their only option is to change in a storage closet, converted into a makeshift dressing room.

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“If it’s not chosen, I don’t think we can do it,” Singleton said earlier this week.

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With files from Callum Smith