LAKE PLACID - Ryan Grady says Seth Kilburn was always there whenever he needed him.
Now, Grady wants to do his part to make sure Kilburn's children get the same support as they grow older. Sawyer, 5, and Harper, 3, who live with their mother Kori Kilburn, lost their father earlier this year to a tragic accident.
Grady, 17, is a senior at Lake Placid High School. For his senior project, he organized an alumni hockey game at the 1932 Rink to honor Kilburn and to raise funds for the Sawyer and Harper Kilburn Fund, created by Seth's sister, Emily Kilburn, to support Sawyer and Harper's future education.
"Seth's parents, Tony and Celeste, have been my brother's godparents, and if I was baptized at birth, Seth and Emily would have been my godparents," Grady told the News. "Seth and Emily have both been there for me since day one. I just feel that I need to repay them since they've done everything for me."
Grady appeared before the Lake Placid school board Tuesday night to seek permission to use the school's insurance to cover the hockey game, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. Dec. 26.
"I am requesting to use the school's insurance because first of all, the money will be for charity, meaning I will be giving more money to Sawyer and Harper," Grady told the board. "Secondly, I feel this is a school event, since it's my senior project and also the only people involved in the event are current and former Blue Bombers themselves."
Grady explained that paying for his own insurance would cost about $300 and take away from what he hopes to donate to the education fund.
"I feel these two children that have to go through the rest of their lives without a father deserve the most they can get, and also nothing would make their father, my dear friend, any prouder than if they can go to college without any debt," he told school board members.
The board voted unanimously to sanction Grady's project as a school event, thus allowing the district's insurance to cover it. Budget Officer Leonard Sauers said he spoke with the district's insurance agency, and it doesn't present any issues.
"Good job, Ryan," school board President Mary Dietrich said after the vote.
Grady, who has been manager of the boys hockey team since he was in sixth grade, said he's received strong support from the community so far. The state Olympic Regional Development Authority donated ice time for the game, and the Lake Placid Alumni Association let Grady post a registration form on its website and offered to provide additional assistance.
Grady said 32 players have signed up so far. He needs eight more to reach his goal of 40 participants. Players who have signed up so far range from the classes of 1978 to 2011.
Each player pays a $35 entry fee which goes to Sawyer and Harper's education fund. Grady said he picked Dec. 26 because he hopes many former Lake Placid students will be home for the holidays.
"I'm ordering jerseys for them," Grady said. "It's just going to be a typical pick-up (game), almost like a men's league game. I'm going to have four former coaches that coached the high school team be on the benches. I've talked to two people that are certified as referees to officiate the game."
Grady added that two people have volunteered to keep score.
In an email to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Kori Kilburn wrote that Grady "should be commended in his effort to pay tribute to, and honor Seth.
"Seth was loved by so many in Lake Placid, and surrounding communities," she said. "He would be absolutely humbled, as I am, to know that this same love is now being shown to his children."
Emily Kilburn told the News that the Sawyer and Harper Kilburn Fund currently has about $10,000 in it - $5,000 for each child. She said they will be able to access it when they turn 18.
"The intention of it is for them to use it for educational purposes," Emily said.
The fund was established at NBT Bank. People can donate to it by sending checks made out to the Sawyer and Harper Kilburn Fund.
"The bank has been kind enough to make us copies of everything so we know who donated money," Emily said. "And a lot of people include notes, which has been nice.
"We're so grateful for Ryan and for the school and for everything they've done, and the alumni committee for allowing this to happen. Ryan is just such a great kid that he would do all of this."
Contact Chris Morris at 891-2600 ext. 25 or cmorris@