Hockey moms united this Mother’s Day for the mothers in Canada who lost their children in the Humboldt Bronco’s bus crash, sending them virtual hugs and bouquets.
Sixteen people died after the bus carrying the junior hockey team collided with a tractor-trailer in Saskatchewan province April 6.
The dead included 10 players, two coaches and a trainer.
Team Hockey Moms delivered 55 bouquets to women affected by the crash Saturday, CNN partner network CBC reported.
The group, which has members from Canada, the US and around the world, also spearheaded a social media campaign to send messages of love and support to the Humboldt Bronco’s mothers with the hashtag #HockeyMoms4Humboldt.
Closest thing to a hug
Montreal-based American hockey mom Andrea Reilly told CBC that the flower campaign started when fellow US hockey mother Shelley Woll had the idea of reaching out to the Humboldt women affected by the crash
“She had the idea to do this social media blitz just to send good wishes to these women, on this weekend, which we know is going to be a very difficult day,” Reilly said.
She told CBC that Team Hockey Moms’ fundraising events over the past few weeks had raised $10,000 Canadian dollars (about $7,800 US) to go towards flowers for biological mothers and the mothers of the families some players were billeted with — as well as other Broncos’ family members.
Reilly told CBC that they were overwhelmed with donations and had to stop collecting and donate the extra proceeds to the Broncos.
The group also asked mothers to send photos of banners with the #HockeyMoms4Humboldt.
“We can’t give them a hug, this is the closest we can do,” Reilly said. Hundreds of images streamed in, she said.
“Oh how I hope the Humboldt mother’s can feel their lost ones love wrapped around them today with every single hug they receive,#HockeyMoms4Humboldt ” wrote Twitter user @valaghvalf.
“The distance might be long in kilometers, but short between souls. Thinking of you, sharing your tears #HockeyMoms4Humboldt @teamhockeymom,” wrote @KirstiNurmela from Finland.
‘It brightened my day’
Laurie Thomas, whose son Evan Thomas died in the crash, told CBC that Mother’s Day had seemed extra hard for the mothers affected because the crash was so recent.
“It’s five weeks and two days, and we keep expecting them to walk through the door and hug us and say, ‘Hey Mom.'” she said. “For a few of us, that’s not going to happen this year.”
She said the gesture from Team Hockey Moms was beautiful.
“When the flowers arrived, it brightened my day,” Thomas told CBC. “I really appreciated the fact that all the hockey moms out there were thinking of us hockey Bronco moms.”
She posted a message expressing her thanks on Twitter.
It’s not the first gesture of support for those who lost loved ones in the April crash.
The tragedy struck a chord across Canada, where hockey is the dominant sport and many young players take long bus rides to tournaments.
Mourners across Canada paid tribute by posting photos of hockey sticks outside of their front doors, while, a GoFundMe campaign for the affected team raised $15,175,100 — more than $19 million Canadian dollars — far surpassing its $4 million goal when it closed April 18.