Thursday, September 6th was the 4th Annual Matt Martin Charity Poker Tournament at Chateau Briand sponsored by New York Life. The Matt Martin Foundation and Denny’s raised $20,000 for Parkland Cares, a charity that provides immediate and long-term funding and awareness for mental health counseling for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting survivors, their families and the community.
After a traumatic school shooting, the emotional and mental health of a community needs to be addressed. Seventeen innocent people were killed during the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Matt Martin, #17 on the New York Islanders decided to swoop in like an angel and make a positive impact. Martin provides service dogs for people with different mental health disorders like PTSD so they can live happier and healthier lives. Service dogs help people cope with fear and reduce anxiety and depression caused by post-traumatic events.
“We’ve been doing this event for 4 years. When we first started, we raised money to give other foundations, now we have more of a hands on approach. We have two service dogs for people who need one and more are going to be trained that will be shipped off soon. It’s nice for the people here to see where their money is going, that’s important. People see this is the cause and it’s helping somebody. I’m a dog lover, an animal lover, to be able to find an animal a home as well as help somebody has a dual purpose,” said Matt Martin.
Kyle Laman, a fifteen-year-old student, who was shot in the leg during the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, was saved by Sgt. Jeff Heinrich, an off-duty Coral Springs police officer who tended to Kyle’s injuries and helped get him to safety before returning the building to clear the hallways. After surviving the shooting, Laman has three wishes, one was to own a German shepherd service dog, a dream that the Matt Martin Foundation helped fulfill.
The Matt Martin Charity Poker Tournament is an event where fans can compete against New York Islanders players (Jordan Eberle, Adam Pelech, Leo Komarov, Mat Barzal,Thomas Greiss, Anthony Beauvillier, Andrew Ladd, Thomas Hickey, Johnny Boychuck, Nick Leddy, Josh Bailey, Scott Mayfield, Casey Cizikas) and alumni (Arron Asham, Dennis Seidenberg.)
Other celebrity guests include co-captain of the USA Men’s National Wheelchair Basketball Team Steve Serio, Major League Baseball player Daniel Herrera, New Jersey Devils goalie Keith Kinkaid and former NHL player Colton Orr.
MMA fighters including Jared Gordon, Gian Villante, and Chris Weidman came down to show their support.
The event had a full buffet, open bar and a silent auction. Some of auction items included, a Shaquille O’Neal signed sneaker, autographed Eli Manning photographs, signed pucks, sticks and jerseys from the New York Islanders, an evening with Wayne Gretzky and more.
If you want to get involved with the Matt Martin Foundation, you can always make a donation on the website or attend an upcoming event. Don’t miss A Night at the Museum Tuesday, October 9th at The Cradle of Aviation Museum. “The more events we can do to help people, the better,” said Matt Martin.