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Charity Hockey Helps Valhalla's Ronald McDonald House

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- After joining the local Ronald McDonald House's board in 2004, retired Fire Lieutenant John Donahoe transitioned the annual "Battle of the Bravest" charity hockey cup into a fundraiser for families who rely on the Ronald McDonald House as their children undergo medical treatment.

On Sunday, Donahoe and the White Plains Professional Fire Fighters Union hope to meet the $14,000 fundraising record as White Plains and Westchester County firefighters duke it out on the Ebersole Ice Rink.

"One of the reasons I got involved is my son had a traumatic brain injury when he was a freshman in high school. He was at the Maria Fareri Westchester Medical Center for about two weeks. That was prior to the Ronald McDonald House, and we had no place to stay," said Donahoe, who worked for the fire department for 33 years. "In the time since, I’ve seen what a great job they’ve done in giving a lot of families, that have even young babies there, a place to stay while they’re child is being treated."

A young fan whose family made the Ronald McDonald House their home-away-from-home when he was hospitalized will drop the puck, kicking off the game at 1 p.m. Ronald McDonald will cheer on the players. Tickets to Ebersole are $5. Admission to the post-game reception at Porter House Restaurant is $20 per family or $5 per adult.

All proceeds from Sunday's events will go towards the Ronald McDonald House of the Greater Hudson Valley , which its executive director said are much needed in these dire economic times.

"We rely on the communities’ support to cover our costs. We are not supported by a corporation or the hospital," said Marielena DiMatteo. "It's extremely hard to fundraise right now, so when we get a group of people like this it's really helpful."

Tom Junior, a White Plains Professional Fire Fighters IAFF Local 247 executive official spearheading the game, said White Plains' team will have an uphill battle against the Westchester firefighters who compete on a traveling team.

However, the winners have been predetermined, if you let Donahoe tell it.

"The children and the families that get the use of the Ronald McDonald House, those are going to be the big winners," Donahoe said. "People from all over the lower Hudson Valley have that facility. So God forbid, if it's needed, it’s there to help."

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