With the Los Angeles Jr. Kings’ and LA Lions’ “Match Game: The Play for Sixty K” fundraising challenge hitting the homestretch - the clubs were only $17,160 away from reaching their end-of-the-year goal as the calendar turned to December - the organizations have wasted zero time moving a good chunk of the money already raised directly on to their families.
Thanks to the generosity of the South Bay-based Ryan Shaw Group (@ryan.shaw.group) at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, its $10,000 contribution to the “Match Game” initiative was targeted straight to eight members of the Jr. Kings and Lions who were recently awarded the first annual Walker Tobin Memorial Scholarship.
The unsuspecting recipients, who were recognized with their awards at a surprise presentation in the Los Angeles Kings’ board room at El Segundo's Toyota Sports Center on the evening of Nov. 30, were chosen based on their strong character and leadership skills, both on and off the ice, along with their need for financial assistance.
The recipients included: Nic Gonzalez of the Jr. Kings’ 18U AAA team; Justin Scarbrough of the club’s 14U AAA1 squad; Carter Ochoa of the 12U A2 club; Rowan Anthony, Alicia Gomez, Kayla Grohman and Bailey Mollet of the Lions’ 10U A team; and Blake Romo of the Jr. Kings’ 8U A1 team.
“What we witnessed presenting these scholarships to those kids and their families was emotional, heartwarming and rewarding to say the least, and easily one of the proudest moments I’ve experienced since being a part of the club,” said Jr. Kings executive director Kelly Sorensen. “Each one of these families works so hard and makes so many sacrifices to be a Jr. King and Lion, so to reward them in that kind of environment was very, very special.”
Shaw, a Southern California native who played hockey growing up and is a former Los Angeles Kings employee and El Segundo Regents/Jr. Kings coach, along with Brett Beebe, also Southern California born-and-bred and a former player and now coach within the Jr. Kings program who works alongside Shaw at Douglas Elliman Real Estate, moved the scholarship initiative to the forefront after the sudden passing of their mutual friend, Walker Tobin, back in September.
“We’ve been talking to the Jr. Kings for about a year or so on how we could get involved and give back to their membership, and the timing was right and made perfect sense given Walker’s character, leadership and likeability in the South Bay community, along with his love for hockey,” said Shaw. “This was the perfect avenue to carry on his memory.”
“He was the ultimate ‘glue guy,’” Beebe said of Tobin, who was also close friends with a handful of Kings players living in the South Bay. “He was that guy who would help you out no matter the situation and just made everyone feel comfortable regardless of the setting.”
Beyond appreciative of Shaw and Beebe, Sorensen is confident their generosity will spark a flame for more individuals and companies to come forward and support the efforts and needs of the club’s families.
“Their willingness and enthusiasm to get behind our club with this level of support is inspiring, and that resonated loud and clear when we recognized those recipients last month,” said Sorensen. “We can’t wait to see where this takes us as it relates to future fundraising and scholarship initiatives for our families.”
And Shaw is equally grateful for the chance to give back to the local hockey community.
“We know full well the value and lessons hockey teaches young men and women, and we’re thankful for the opportunity to give back to such a selfless program full of so many hard-working kids, parents and coaches,” he said. “We truly hope this is just the beginning.”