Several weeks ago, a fire in Bayonne tore through a multi-family home. It took the lives of two grandparents, and made it impossible for eight families to go home.
The Fogoe family was among those who made it out, but lost everything they owned. Their 17-year-old son, Akiel Fogoe, was forced to cancel his plans to attend a hockey goalie camp. He had just saved hundreds of dollars to buy new skates, which burned along with his other gear.
Akiel told PIX11 that goaltending has shaped him both on and off the ice.
“It puts me under a lot of pressure and I think that will help me through life,” he said.
Hockey coach Tom Fogu runs the week-long camp and heard about Akiel’s story. He posted a plea for help on Facebook. Fogu had met Akiel only once before.
“I knew it was something we needed to get involved with,” said Fogu.
The New Jersey Devils and equipment company CCM found out. Today, they delivered new equipment for Akiel on the first day of hockey camp.
“I’ve been playing high school hockey with all used equipment,” said Akiel, “It feels good to have my own.”
Akiel and his family were also invited to the Prudential Center on Friday, where Akiel’s name was hung over Cory Schneider’s locker, the Devils’ goaltender. He put on Schneider’s skates and played on the Devils’ ice.
“It was awesome seeing him so happy after the devastation we went through,” said Haldane Fogoe, Akiel’s dad. Before they left, Akiel got a Devils jersey with his own name on the back. It was signed by Schneider.
“He made a comment coming into the rink this morning that it took the family two hours after they got home from the Prudential Center for their cheeks to stop hurting because they were smiling so much,” said Coach Fogu.
Fogu added that while the gifts don't replace everything the family lost, Akiel can forget about the tragedy for one week and enjoy being out on the ice.