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Amateur North American Ice Hockey Players Brave the Heat for Korean Build * * * * Multinational Ice Hockey Tournament Auction Raises Funds

July 26, 2005

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Geckos at play: opening game of the Kimchi Pot tournament

SEOUL, 26th July 2005: The day was hot – more than 30 degrees Celsius – for one set of volunteers who are more accustomed to the chill of ice. Undeterred, ten members of the Geckos Glaciers ice hockey team were on site for some heavy lifting on a Habitat build in Korea.

And a few days later, the amateur team, made up of North Americans residing in Korea, showed their continuing support by raising funds for Habitat for Humanity Korea at an ice hockey tournament.

The build at Mokcheon, in Cheonan, Choongcheongnam-Do, about 130 km. south of the capital Seoul, will be home for 16 families when completed later by October. The Gecko Glaciers helped set up scaffolds and trusses on a hot early summer day. This was a first-time build for team members who were led by Paul Novak, who normally plays as a defender on the ice.

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Geckos at work: team members helping at the Mokcheon build

“I heard about participating in Habitat for Humanity Korea’s programs from colleagues on the US army base where I work,” he said.

“For someone like me, who works in an office everyday, there is nothing more satisfying than doing something with my hands and seeing the end result, especially since I have so few building skills. It was a fun day and also helped me get to know some of my teammates on another level, not just playing hockey and drinking beer!”

Later, the team hosted their third annual “Kimchi Pot International Ice Hockey Tournament” , in Anyang, a city some 20 km. southwest of Seoul,. This three-day tournament involved three teams of North Americans residing in Korea, one Korean team and four teams made up of players from China, Japan, Mongolia, Singapore and Taiwan.

Canada’s ambassador to Korea, Marius R. Grinius, Anyang mayor Joongdai Shin, and HFH Korea secretary general Soonha Kwon were at the Anyang Ice Rink for the opening ceremony of the tournament and cheered on the teams.

The “Kimchi Pot”, a very unique Korean-style trophy for the tournament winners, went to the Geckos Blue, one of two Geckos Glaciers teams playing.

At the farewell banquet, team shirts, pants, gloves and helmets as well as the tournament poster were auctioned off for the benefit of HFH Korea. Auctioneer Andy Monteith, a forward for the Geckos Glaciers, helped participants to US$2,149, which was presented to Habitat’s Soonha Kwon.

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Handing over the proceeds: Geckos Glaciers’ Paul Novak with Habitat’s Soonha Kwon (center) and forward Charlie Lee with the check from the post-tournament auction

The Geckos Glaciers’ Novak explained why they had had chosen to support Habitat. “We saw this as an opportunity where we could help those less fortunate around us by giving what we had most of – youth, muscles and lots of energy – as opposed to what we don’t have lot of – money.”

“That we were able to make a respectable donation from what we took in at our auction –– a very pleasant surprise to everyone on our team! –– was a bonus.”

Geckos Glaciers team members plan to participate in a Habitat building project in the fall.

Since it was formally incorporated in 1995, HFH Korea has built 722 homes, 396 in Korea and another 326 overseas. It has 12 affiliates, five student chapters in colleges and schools, and organizes volunteer builds. HFH Korea’s web site is www.habitat.or.kr