As the Blackhawks prepare to defend the Stanley Cup and face the St. Louis Blues in their latest return to the playoffs, the loyal and lovely wives of the men in red and black have been very busy in the community giving back, driving awareness to charitable causes, and preparing to bring babies into the world (more on that later).
Last Saturday (yes, the one that was 65 degrees) I had the chance to attend the latest fundraiser hosted by the the Bryan and Amanda Bickell Foundation, a foundation devoted to raising awareness around Pit Bulls. Hosted at legendary Lakeview pub, Durkins, fans were encouraged to bring along their pups and to come out to watch to Blackhawks take the ice in the Music City against the Nashville Predators.
My friend Margaret and I made our way to Durkins around 7:00 p.m. (dog-less) and were immediately surprised by how many guests had brought their dogs out with them. Throughout the night around 100 guests and 20 or so pups gathered to watch the Blackhawks in their final game of the regular season. The $40 cover included an open bar and yummy treats from Duffys down the street. Our furry friends also received Pup WOOFers, delectable peanut butter and oatmeal doggy cookies for them to munch on during the game.
Much to my surprise, all of the pups in attendance were so well behaved, and many were decked in their favorite Blackhawks gear, along with their owners. The tail-waggin’ attendees were so incredibly friendly, and seemed very excited to be out on the town as they greeted guests passing by with a kiss or nudge.
One of the main guests of honor was Deke, the featured Bick Pit of the month who was just adopted this week and is going home to a loving family! The bubbly pup was enjoying all the attention, but still graced his presence to pose for a great photo with me.
There was plenty of swag to purchase with proceeds benefitting the Foundation: Bick’s Pits t-shirts were on sale for $25, and the event’s special pint glass for $10 or a pair for $18. The popular Bick’s Pits calendars, that feature members of the Blackhawks alongside Pit Bulls, were available for purchase as well. And what would a fundraiser be without a raffle table? Ranging in prizes from a wine lover’s dream basket, to a Bryan Bickell autographed hockey stick, to a special doggy basket, there was something for everyone. Doggyloot sponsored the raffle and goody bag donations.
Fans were also put to test with a fun photo contest. Participants had to use their doggy knowledge to pick out which dogs on the sheet were true Pit Bulls, and out of the whole bar, only six fans correctly answered each question, demonstrating just how important it is to raise awareness about the lovable breed, which is Amanda Bickell’s number one priority.
I had the chance to talk to Amanda, who looked just stunning, baby bump and all (Amanda and Bryan are expecting their first child, a girl, on August 16). Amanda mentioned that the biggest challenge the foundation faces is spreading the word about the Pit Bull breed, and educating people on how lovable and loyal these dogs are.
Many people already have pre-conceived opinions about Pit Bulls based on what they hear in the media, and from the public stories of Pit Bulls attacking humans. We often don’t consider the fact that other dogs cause harm too. For example, last year a Chihuahua and a Cocker Spaniel both harmed young children but never caught the attention of the media. Amanda stressed that we have to be open minded, and understand how compassionate Pit Bulls truly are, something that was clearly visible at the event. Each pup was so lovable that I almost took little C.T. home with me because he was just so precious.
Since it’s inception, the Bryan and Amanda Bickell Foundation has helped roughly 20 Pit Bulls find a place to call home and become a part of a loving family with seven of those pups being the featured Pit Bulls models in Bick’s Pits calendar. Yet, despite the impressive strides the Bickells have made, there is so much work to do. Volunteers are always needed. If interested in volunteering, contact the Bickell Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how you can help give these pups a voice. The Foundation will continue to create programs to drive awareness and fundraising for Pit Bulls with their next initiative, Paws for Strength, coming soon. To learn more about the organization, and their current programs, visit the BickellFoundation.org.
Despite the outcome of the game (the Hawks lost, 7-5) Pints for Pits event was a success, from the cheerful fans to the adorable pups, everyone had a great time while driving awareness to a formidable cause and generating money throughout the night from ticket sales, merchandise, and the raffle.
Hats off to Amanda and Bryan for their continued success in driving awareness to a cause so near and dear to their hearts, and for giving fans the unique opportunity to come together with their four-legged friends. We a-PAW-laud (sorry, had to) the gracious hosts and all those who continue to donate their time to help make the Bickell Foundation events such a success. Follow the Foundation on Facebook to stay on top of all the upcoming events as well as adoption opportunities and general Pit Bull awareness. We’ll see you at the next one. Until then, go HAWKS!