Boston's alumni coordinator, son have been involved with AHIHA for over 25 years
BOSTON - Karen Wonoski couldn't help but think of how far her son had come.
Some 25 years after Mike Wonoski first attended the Stan Mikita Hockey School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, there he was standing at the podium to deliver a speech.
Karen, the Bruins' alumni coordinator since 2014, was beaming with pride but wasn't quite sure what he was up there to present. She quickly learned he was there to talk about her.
"I'm up here tonight because I want to thank my mother," Mike said from the podium during an awards ceremony at the hockey school's annual camp last month just outside of Chicago. "I want to thank her for bringing me here all these years, making new friends, family…the Olympic games, World Championships.
"All these years, you've been volunteering with AHIHA and all those Dunkin' Donuts runs late at night…and tonight, you get one of these awards because you deserve it for everything you've put into the camp."
As Mike finished his speech, the audience rose to its feet to give Karen a standing ovation, a worthy recognition of her two-plus decades of volunteerism with the American Hearing Impaired Hockey Association. For her efforts she was awarded the "Gunzo Award," the organization's highest honor for its volunteers, given "annually to the AHIHA staff member who best symbolizes spirit and energy."
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This week, we lost an important member of the Boston Bruins Alumni family -- Mal Viola -- who passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.
Mal worked with the Bruins and the Alumni for 33 years, most of them along side "The Chief" Johnny Bucyk as he built the Alumni program.
Later, Mal worked closely with past Alumni president Bob Sweeney and current Alumni president Rick Middleton during their tenures before retiring in 2014.
Mal is pictured here in this 2018 group photo along side Bobby Miller, who passed away in October.
Mal was the "go-to" person for the Alumni and her devotion and loyalty to the Bruins combined with her cheerful personality made her a friend to all.
RIP Mal. You will be missed.
The Boston Bruins Alumni with a stick tap salute to 18-year old Bishop Feehan High School hockey player A.J. Quetta, who was seriously injured in a game on January 26.
The Bruins legends were joined by the Thomas E. Smith Foundation for this benefit game, which raised funds for A.J.'s medical expenses.
Proceeds from the Bruins 50/50 raffles from Feb. 1 to Feb. 13 will benefit A.J. Quetta and his family.
Bruins Alumni Coordinator Karen Wonoski was featured in a recent edition of "The Hockey News."
As the Bruins alumni coordinator, Karen Wonoski gets to witness some amazing interactions with former Boston stars, including the time Johnny Bucyk met Milt Schmidt.
By Lisa Wallace
Many people would be envious of Karen Wonoski.
Wonoski is the Boston Bruins alumni coordinator and, as such, has the opportunity to spend time with some of the organization’s fan favorites.
Think of players such as Ray Bourque, Terry O’Reilly and Rick Middleton who continue to live on in Bruins lore. “Spending time with the players is awesome,” admitted Wonoski. “They all have different personalities, but are great people. That’s what you have to remember, they are all human. I love listening to their hockey stories.”
Wonoski, a Bruins fan since she was a child, saw the posting for the position, applied, and has held the role for the past seven years.
Much of Wonoski’s job entails managing ticket requests for seats in the Alumni Suite, maintaining player appearance schedules, and organizing about 30 alumni games every season. She works closely with Bruins legends 'Chief' Johnny Bucyk and 'Nifty' Rick Middleton.
Over the years Wonoski has enjoyed numerous special moments, but two stand out in particular. One was going to Milt Schmidt’s home with Bucyk. Schmidt played 16 seasons with the Bruins over the course of nearly 20 years from 1936 through 1955. Schmidt was signing a number of items that would later be donated. “He carefully signed each item, and the whole time chatted with 'Chief' about old hockey memories,” Wonoski said. “Watching and listening to those two gentlemen was something else.”
Outside the Fame catches up with one of the most electric and exciting goal scorers to ever wear a Boston Bruins uniform. Rick "Nifty" Middleton was a prolific and gifted hockey player who spent the best part of his career in black and gold and was a one man highlight reel.
Host Jayme Parker's candid conversation with Middleton covers his time on ice with the BIG BAD BRUINS and his career after he stopped lacing 'em up.
Middleton went on to coach the 2000 USA Men's Sledge (sled) Hockey Team to gold in the Paralympics. It was a Cinderella story of the tournament and is currently in development to become a movie.
Every November, players on the MDSC All Stars team, many of whom have a loved one with Down syndrome, sharpen their skates to face-off against the Bruins greats of yesteryear. For sixteen years, the MDSC and the Boston Bruins Alumni have joined forces to support people with Down syndrome and their families. The steadfast support has raised significant funds to benefit MDSC's programs and services and has helped the general public understand that people with Down syndrome should not be defined by their diagnosis.
This year, the Boston Bruins Alumni have completely re-imagined the charity hockey program during COVID-9, so that our skaters can safely enjoy hockey while raising funds to support the important work of the MDSC. Now more than ever, the MDSC needs support to continue to be able to provide programs and services for individuals with Down syndrome and their families. For more information about MDSC go here: www.mdsc.org.
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