Mitchell's Pink the Rink event gives back to disabled veterans

Proceeds to go toward Wounded Warrior Project, Heart and Sole cancer organization

Kelsey Amick handles the puck on Saturday for the Mitchell Marlins girl's varsity squad during a game that was part of the Pink the Rink event.
(Sam Fosness / Mitchell Republic)

The Mitchell Marlins hockey teams hit the ice for a meaningful cause this weekend.

While Mitchell’s Pink the Rink was originally created to raise awareness for breast cancer, the hockey event has evolved into something much bigger. For Saturday’s fifth annual Pink the Rink event, the Marlins added the Wounded Warrior Project and a sled hockey team to the list of organizations to raise money for.

Sonya Puetz, a committee member of the Mitchell Hockey Association, said the decision to donate some of the proceeds made from the event was made by the Marlins players.

A youth hockey player picks up hockey pucks on Saturday at the Mitchell Activities Center during the Pink the Rink event.
(Sam Fosness / Mitchell Republic)

“It was awesome to see the kids come together and choose the Wounded Warrior Project. This event means a lot to the kids,” Puetz said.

For the past few years, Puetz has been behind the scenes working to keep Pink the Rink running smoothly. While the event is organized by leaders of the Mitchell Hockey Association, Puetz said this year entailed allowing the Marlins players to have input on the organizations and pink jersey designs.


According to Puetz, 60% of the proceeds will go toward the Wounded Warrior Project — which is a national organization dedicated to helping wounded military veterans enhance their lives with activities and events — while 40% of the proceeds will be donated to Mitchell’s Heart and Sole cancer organization. The event typically raises between $5,000 to $8,000 each year.

Mitchell Marlins forward Brooke Jarman fires a shot at the net during Saturday's game against Yankton.
(Sam Fosness / Mitchell Republic)

New to this year’s event was a game of sled hockey. In between the full slate of games on Saturday, a group of sled hockey players hit the ice on the neighboring rink. Some of the sled hockey players who faced off over the weekend in Mitchell were former members of the USA national sled hockey team.

Over the years, sled hockey has become a popular sport for many who have physical disabilities. The sleds allow people with a physical disability to maneuver around the ice with a handheld hockey stick.

Thanks to Dave Tronnes, the leader of the Sam Tronnes Memorial Foundation, a Midwest sled hockey club received a new sled this year. Since his kids played hockey for the Mitchell Marlins, Tronnes has actively raised money to help Mitchell’s hockey organization maintain its growing program. Over the past several years, Tronnes has helped host a pheasant hunt in Mitchell and banquet to raise money for hockey clubs around the area.

“That’s what our foundation is all about. Since 2010, we’ve donated $352,000 to hockey-related projects around the state,” Tronnes said.

For Tronnes, bringing the sled hockey game to this year’s Pink the Rink provided a unique opportunity to expose more people to sled hockey, which he said is “much needed.”

“I always had a soft spot for disabled athletes, and three to four years ago, I think many people didn’t even know what sled hockey was,” Tronnes said. “I’ve heard a sled hockey player say ‘it is one thing that brings them normalcy.’”

Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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