Tonawanda News

Local News

February 24, 2008

TOWN OF TONAWANDA: Sabres alumni help raise money for Jon Jon’s Journey

TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Former Buffalo Sabres Rob Ray, Grant Ledyard and Richard Smehlik helped Jon Jon’s Journey take a big step forward Sunday night.

Members of the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Association took on a team comprised of Kenmore and Town of Tonawanda police officers at Lincoln Arena to raise money for 6-year-old Jon Jon Cinelli, who last year was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor.

Several hundred people came out for the event, including Vincent Christiano, who just joined the town’s police force and is currently in the police academy. “Having three kids of my own, I empathize with what Jon Jon’s parents are going through,” said Christiano, whose children are 7, 6 and 3. “What little we donate to the cause is going to be minuscule to what it’s going to cost them.”

Christiano was hoping to get a spot on the police hockey team’s roster for Sunday’s event. However, so many members offered to play that first dibs went to those with the most seniority.

After taking a 5-0 lead after the first 20-minute half, Sabres alumni players signed autographs, then returned to the ice for the second half. With a little help from some scoreboard changing, the police team clawed back and took the lead, before claiming a 2-1 shootout victory. Afterwards, both teams gathered at one end of the rink to pose for a photo with Jon Jon.

The real winner, of course, was Jon Jon, who stood across from Ray at center ice to drop the puck for the ceremonial face-off, and was greeted to loud applause both before and after the game.

Jon Jon’s parents were more than gracious for the support Jon Jon’s Journey has received thus far. “We are just super overwhelmed, really speechless,” said Anne Cinelli, Jon Jon’s mother. “It’s amazing how much the whole community has gotten behind our son Jon and what he’s going through.”

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