The work to keep supporting police officers after the July 7 ambush isn't slowing down five months after the tragedy.
The Dallas Stars alumni will host the Dallas Police Hockey Team this weekend for a friendly game to raise money for the Assist the Officer Foundation.
The team grew and became much more active after the ambush on July 7. The officers say they were looking for a healthy release after what happened and at the same time work towards helping officers’ families in crisis.
Sgt. Brian Simonds is the team captain of the hockey team.
“It's just a way for us to cope with what's been going on, coming together as a team,” he said.
Simonds sent an email to the department a few weeks after the ambush. He wanted to know if other officers would want to get together and take their minds off work. It turns out many did.
“I think it’s a stress reliever for myself and a lot of the other guys,” he said. “They're enjoying just because it's something outside of work, outside of family, outside of the regular day-to-day activity.”
Simonds was home the night of the ambush but rushed downtown when he saw the news.
“I threw my uniform on, drove down in my family minivan and put myself right in the scene and did what I could with whoever was out there,” he recalled.
Simonds says his family watched live on FOX 4 as Simonds ducked behind a patrol car and could see he was ok.
Officer Joe Gonzales works in the southwest patrol division, which lost three officers including Corporal Lorne Aherns.
“The next day, I saw his truck,” Gonzales recalled. “He parks right next to me every day. And I just broke down.”
Each officer has a story about the personal impact of the ambush and their reasons for reaffirming their commitment to the team.
“We get to release. We get to just have fun, you know,” Gonzales said. “Just don’t worry about work and just go into the hockey world.”
“It makes me feel great that people want to get together for this to be a part of something more than just the police department itself, being part of something else bigger as well,” Simonds said.
Officers pay for the hockey jerseys and equipment out of pocket. The team is dedicated to raising money for the ATO Foundation.
The fundraising game will be at the American Airlines Center after the Stars regular game against the Flyers.