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New Year's Day hockey scrimmage in memory of Austin Kingsborough

This is a photo of Austin Kingsborough in his younger years playing the sport he loved. He drowned April 21 with his bestfriend Brendan Wilson after their canoe capsized on Nicola Lake in Merritt. A new charity AK94 has been set up as a legacy to Kingsborough and a hockey game in his name will happen on Jan. 1 at Twin Rinks. - contributed photo
This is a photo of Austin Kingsborough in his younger years playing the sport he loved. He drowned April 21 with his bestfriend Brendan Wilson after their canoe capsized on Nicola Lake in Merritt. A new charity AK94 has been set up as a legacy to Kingsborough and a hockey game in his name will happen on Jan. 1 at Twin Rinks.
— image credit: contributed photo

For those who knew Austin Kingsborough or played hockey with him, there will be a first annual skate and scrimmage in his honour at Twin Rinks on New Year's Day, Jan.1 from 4:15 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

If you're interested in playing, there will be a fee of $25 which will go to the AK94 Memorial fund, which was recently created by the Kingsborough family and their friends.

Twin Rinks has donated the ice time for the fundraiser.

This is the first fundraiser of many to come for the AK94 Memorial Fund that was created as a legacy to Kingsborough, an avid and talented ice and ball hockey player who drowned alongside his best friend, Brendan Wilson, when their canoe overturned on Nicola Lake in Merritt on April 21, 2013.

"We want to make this an annual tradition, playing hockey and doing what Austin loved to do," said Rob Christl, who along with his wife, Trish, Austin's mom Kelly and several others, sits on the AK94 Memorial committee.

Christl's daughter Graysen was Austin's longtime girlfriend.

"Our focus is to keep the memory of the boys alive," said Christl.

"AK94 Memorial was created for nothing more than an opportunity for Austin's family to give back to the community that gave so much to them," said Christl.

In Austin's mom's words, "The overwhelming support of family, friends and the amazing community kept me strong in my weakest moments, kept me together, kept me standing and made me very proud."

All the funds raised will go to kids' sports in Langley, to help athletes who want to play but maybe can't afford to. Donations will also be made to Basics for Babies and Make A Wish for Langley's sick kids, specifically.

Throughout the year, the Memorial committee will being doing fundraisers and collecting donations.

"We are just in the process of getting our charity registered so we will be able to offer receipts soon," said Christl.

The "94" in AK94 is Austin's ball hockey jersey number.

"Austin played on the junior national ball hockey team and he would have been going to the World Championships in the Czech Republic with the national team this year," said Christl.

In that vein, the Canadian national ball hockey teams that Austin would have been with, including his former coach and would-be coach going to the World's, will be presenting a  donation to the AK94 Memorial on Jan. 2 at the George Preston Civic Arena at 7:30 p.m.

Also, AK94 donated $200 worth of baby products and $100 cash to JRFM's Basics for Babies fundraiser held at the Langley Events Centre two weeks ago.

Langley residents were shocked to learn that the two popular Langley Secondary Grade 12 students were missing and their boat had been found, overturned, on Nicola Lake.

The pair had gone to the Wilsons' cabin for a weekend.

Once word had got out the pair were missing, students at LSS started fundraisers, selling T-shirts, wrist bands and more with the saying: "Pray For The Boys." All the funds went to help the families financially through the search and recovery of the boys.

Austin and Brendan's bodies were found on May 6 by an American recovery team, hired after RCMP dive teams ended their search.

The length of time it took to find the boys' bodies was the impetus to start up a non-profit society dedicated to searching and recovering victims of drowning.

The non-profit organization, called Legacy Water Search and Recovery Society, will be dedicated to bringing closure to the families of drowning victims. It is mainly made up of members of the Wilson family and friends.

Their goal is to buy and use special sonar equipment similar to that used to recover Wilson’s and Kingsborough’s bodies, after the RCMP dive team were unable to using the limited equipment they had.

To find out more about AK94 and to register for the skate so they can know numbers go to AK94 Memorial Facebook page.

If you are interested in donating a silent auction item or making a donation contact robchristl@shaw.ca.

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