Hockey Humanitarian Award finalists unveiled

The eight finalists for the BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award were named today.

The award is given annually to college hockey’s finest citizen to recognize players at the Division I or Division III level, male or female, who give back to their community.

This year’s recipient will be introduced in an afternoon ceremony on Friday, April 8 at 5:30 CDT as part of the Frozen Four in St. Paul, Minn.  

Here are biographies of the finalists, as provided by the award organizers:

Brooks Dyroff, Boston College

From Boulder, C0lo., Dyroff is as much a humanitarian as he is a hockey player. A sophomore forward, he co-founded an organization called CEO 4 Teens, that has raised money to send Indonesian teens to school, as well as help Boston area teenagers obtain their GEDs. He also founded “Mathletes,” an after school math enrichment program. An avid filmmaker, Brooks was also a member of the 2009-2010 All Hockey East Academic Team.  

Alex Higgins, St. Michaels College

A senior forward from Phoenix, Higgins is someone who considers no job too small. He is the Purple Knights’ leader when it comes to volunteer efforts, and has organized activities such as a “learn to skate” program to connect students with low income housing residents. He has also given his time by volunteering at Wideko, a summer camp for the behaviorally challenged, as well as an internship at a local youth detention center.

Aleca Hughes, Yale University

Aleca has given of herself to help save the lives of others, especially teammate Mandi Schwartz (the sister of St. Louis Blues 2010 first round draft pick Jaden Schwartz), who has been battling with leukemia for over two years. Aleca and her teammates have organized two record setting bone marrow transplant drives that added 1,600 potential donors to the National Marrow Donor Program’s “Be The Match” registry. She also organized other fundraisers for Mandi, two of which helped raise over $22,000 for Mandi and her family. A junior forward from Westwood, Mass., Aleca is a top student who has earned ECAC All Academic Team in each of her first two years. 

Sam Kuzyk, Adrian College

A senior winger from Winnipeg and repeat Humanitarian finalist, Sam is equal parts humanitarian and entrepreneur, in that most everything he has organized he started on his own and virtually from scratch. He has dedicated much of his time and effort to raise money and awareness for the local Hickman Cancer Center. He has also engaged in countless other activities, such as Salvation Army Family Sponsorships, a fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Canada, and visits to local schools to read to students. Sam has been an MCHA All Academic Team member for three years running. 

Tucker Mullin, St. Anselm College

From Andover, Mass., the sophomore forward has made a big impact, and rather quickly. Tucker is passionately dedicated to helping those suffering from paralysis, and as a result co-founded the Thomas E. Smith Fight to Cure Paralysis Foundation, a 501C (3) non-for profit organization. Last summer, the foundation hosted a golf tournament that raised over $30,000 to help put the foundation on the map. He is also deeply involved in St. Anselm’s annual “Spin-to-Win the Fight against ALS” event. Mullin has been the Trustee of the event since 2008, personally raising over $16,000 in donations.

Trevor Nill, Michigan State University

A junior forward from Novi, Mich., Nill was deeply moved by his mother’s battle with cancer, and at age 16, he and a friend organized “Bike Across Michigan,” which raised over $2,500 for cancer research. At Michigan State, he has taken the lead on charities like Shoot for a Cure (which raises money to fight children’s cancer), and the “Spartan Buddies” program, which was started by past HHA nominee (and current Detroit Red Wing) Drew Miller, and creates interaction between students and patients at Sparrow Hospital’s pediatric ward. Nill is the son of current Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill.   

Whitney Pappas, Robert Morris University

A senior defender from Evergreen, Colo., Pappas does it all, on the ice, in the classroom (six times a Dean’s List member), and in her community. She has volunteered for many events and organizations (such as Holy Angels Orphanage, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Skate for the Cure), and has led several initiatives such as Project Bundle (collecting coats, scarves, hats and gloves for St. Vincent DePaul), as well as numerous food drives. She also successfully interned at a recreation center back home in Colorado, for which she helped raise over $7,500 in cash sponsorships and over $10,000 in cash contributions.

Brigid O’Gorman, Connecticut College

For O’Gorman, a senior captain from Eden, N.Y., and repeat finalist, the world is her community. In the summer of 2010, she traveled to Uganda on a humanitarian mission for which she raised over $10,000. The funds went toward creating a solar powered medical records system. She also delivered children’s clothes, books and school supplies. Brigid also traveled to Uganda during her spring break in 2009. She has also given her time to organizations such as the High Hopes Therapeutic Riding Center, along with Special Olympics Speed Skating of Southeastern Connecticut.