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Player raising cash for Alaska hearts

Red Deer’s Kaare Odegard is becoming known in Alaska for more than just his slapshot.

The defenceman with the University of Alaska’s Nanooks hockey team has so far raised more than $140,000 for the Fairbanks hospital’s cardiac centre.

Odegard, who was born and raised in Red Deer before earning a scholarship with the Nanooks, told the College Hockey News that he felt helpless after his father, Scott Odegard, suffered a heart attack in Red Deer just weeks before the 2011-12 hockey season began.

“I came up to Alaska and just had a vision” — to start a charity to help people with heart problems in the Fairbanks area, he stated.

As the Nanooks’ office manager, Shawn Head, had lost his own father to a heart attack at the age of 55, the two established a foundation, With All Your Heart, which is making a difference in the community that’s supported Odegard’s college hockey career.

Funds are being raised through benefit dinners and silent auctions for the Harry and Sally Potter Heart Centre at the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital.

As well, Odegard is encouraging fans of the team to donate a certain number of dollars to the fund whenever the Nanooks score, win a game, or manage a shutout, a power-play goal or a hat-trick.

His efforts were recognized with a plaque with Odegard’s picture mounted on the wall outside the heart centre. The wall also contains 140 pucks — one for every $1,000 raised.

“It’s quite an accomplishment,” said Odegard’s mother, Lisa, who is proud that her son has made such a positive impact on the community.

“When people take the time to come and thank me, that’s great. It’s a humbling experience, that’s for sure,” stated Odegard, a business administration student, who plans to graduate in the spring and return to Red Deer.

While his father is now recovering from the heart attack, Odegard, who was made assistant captain of the Nanooks this year, would like to continue doing charitable work. He was awarded the Ryan Reinheller Humanitarian Award at the end of last season.

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