Duluth, MN - (Northland's NewsCenter) - Hockey equipment, fees and summer camps can be expensive for families.
In order to lighten the burden for families of service men and women, a non-profit organization was created, helping ensure the children of deployed troops can keep their sticks on the ice.
For many here in Minnesota hockey is not only a game, but a lifestyle, and it can get expensive. But a non-profit organization is trying to change that for military families.
"Defending the Blue Line has experienced tremendous success by providing equipment for the kids, grants to help pay their association fees, summer hockey camps and NHL game tickets so the whole family can go enjoy a pro-game before or after a deployment," says President and Founder of Defending the Blue Line, Army Sgt. Shane Hudella.
Named after the line that marks the start of the defensive zone in hockey, "Defending The Blue Line" was created in 2009 by a group of active duty soldiers.
The program helps military families offset the expensive costs of having their children in a hockey program while their mom or dad is overseas.
"To give the kids an activity to do to keep their mind off of the parent being away is a really big deal,"military wife and mom, Natasha Moore says.
Navy Machinist Mate, Second Class Herbert Moore has been on six deployments and says they've never been able to afford to put their kids in hockey.
"They have never been able to try hockey yet just because the cost that's with it," MM2 Moore says.
But thanks to Defending the Blue Line, their kids are all suited up.
"It's a great cause and I couldn't say enough about it, it made the two little guys over there dreams come true," says MM2 Moore.
The creator of the program, Sergeant Shane Hudella, says his goal is to keep children of deployed troops active and healthy while their parents are away.
"I've seen first hand the challenges that our service members face, separation from families, birthdays and first steps missed and the struggle to keep things together on the home front as one or both parents are deployed," Sgt. Hudella says.
He's hoping this program will take a huge weight off the shoulders of those who serve...and their families.
"It let a big burden off as far as financial costs," Moore says.
To date the program has been able to outfit more than 300 military kids with top of the line hockey equipment, send more than 700 kids to hockey camps and give out over 40-thousand-dollars in grants for association fees.
Sergeant Shane Hudella says he hopes to expand their program to other sports for military kids.