Bellingham resident and Kraken season ticket member donates 50-50 raffle winnings to increase access to hockey in his community — by Bob Condor
When Bellingham resident Parker Sutton and a friend attended the Oct. 15 Kraken home opener, Sutton noticed the team was launching the Seattle Kraken 50/50 Raffle, presented by Washington’s Lottery. The raffle benefits One Roof Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena. Sutton, a Kraken season ticket holder bought a ticket on a whim, then effectively forgot about it.
A few dates later in the home schedule, that same friend joined Sutton for the car ride and another Kraken home game.
“My buddy asked me, ‘Hey, did you ever check that raffle ticket?” said Sutton in a recent conversation. “So then I checked it [online]. You go to the One Roof Foundation website. There is a list of winning numbers. Next to each home game, it says which [winning tickets] have been claimed.”
The home opener was still open to claim. Sutton checked his ticket: “I was like, oh how about that? Look at that! We won!”
As it turns out, the “we” is Sutton, his six-year-old daughter, Isla, and the Whatcom County Amateur Hockey Association. After taxes, Sutton put aside some money for his daughter and then gifted $10,000 to Whatcom youth hockey programs (best known for “Whatcom Warriors” teams).
Sutton didn’t do it to call attention to himself (or be the subject of this story): “When I won the money, you know, what’s the old adage? It’s better to give than receive. I took the lion’s share of the winnings and gave it to the hockey association.”
The Bellingham construction contractor didn’t specify an exact purpose for the donation but did express an interest in providing more access for Bellingham youth who might need financial assistance to cover equipment costs and ice time fees.
“My thought was to give it to kids less fortunate so they experience the joy of participating in the sport,” said Sutton, who grew up in Colorado playing hockey and following the NHL Avalanche and still joins an over-40 game every Sunday at the Sportsplex in Bellingham. “I talked to the president of the association and said the only real thing was I didn’t want my name affiliated with it at all. The point of doing it was to help, not to be recognized.”
But in talking to One Roof Foundation about his decision to support greater access for all youth interested in trying hockey and learning to skate – one of the foundation’s three pillars -Sutton realized maybe his charitable act could persuade other 50-50 winners to donate some of the winnings to good causes. He realized his act might encourage similar paying forward and align with One Roof Foundation’s mission “to advance equity and sustainability by increasing opportunities to thrive for our most vulnerable young people and communities.”
For his part, Sutton has also committed his time to Whatcom County youth hockey. As a former high school player at Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire, he knows the sport well. He volunteered as a coach for several seasons but currently devotes his free time to his daughter’s activities. He did help run USA Hockey’s learn-to-skate clinic in Bellingham. Along with the usual Sunday league, he occasionally joins a mid-week game with local former NCAA Division I players “to get a good skate in.” He attended “eight to 10” Kraken games this season and shares his season tickets with local friends who in some cases attend their first NHL game.
His daughter, Isla, has skated in learn-to-skate programs and free skates, though Sutton said she “really loves watching the Sunday games.” Isla’s in for a treat on Martin Luther King Jr. Day Jan. 16. She will be attending her first-ever NHL game with her father in a matinee matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I just assume after that game she will catch the bug,” said Sutton. “The next thing will be getting skates and being at the rink more often. It will be a fun day.”
Support One Roof Foundation during the 2022-2023 NHL season by participating in our 50/50 Raffle presented by Washington’s Lottery at Kraken home games. Fans over the age of 18 may purchase raffle tickets at Seattle Kraken home games from the time doors open until the end of the second intermission. Tickets can be purchased at stationary kiosks and from adult volunteer ticket sellers throughout the concourses of Climate Pledge Arena. One winning ticket will be selected at random during the 3rd period of each game, with the winner receiving half of the proceeds from the raffle, and One Roof Foundation receiving the other half.