'Skate for 8' Raises Awareness on Mental Health in Honor of Duluth East Hockey Player

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: September 21, 2019 11:08 PM

A Duluth family is using the memory of their loved one and hockey as a way to raise awareness on suicide prevention and mental health among kids in the community. They did this by hosting the second annual Skate for 8 event at Heritage Sill Arena Saturday.


The event is a fundraiser that gives back to a local mental health organization. It’s done in memory of Hunter Fronden, who died by suicide in April 2018. The fundraising effort involves shooting the puck for a good cause.

“He was a very, kind loving brother and very good son and friend to a lot of people. He was an all-around great kid that loved the game of hockey, said Erick Fronden, Hunter’s father and spokesperson of Skate for 8.

“He was a great kid, loving. I can’t really put it into words but he was the best,” said Jack Hilken, Hunter’s best friend and participant of Skate for 8.

The event is about getting kids on the ice for a fun friendly game of hockey that honors the love Hunter had for the sport.

The no-check hockey games started with squirt and peewee. Then it changed to a girls game. After, they had bantams and junior gold play, and ended with the Duluth Fire Department playing the Duluth Warriors.

The event is focused on raising awareness on mental health and suicide prevention.

“With society and school and pressures today, it's a very important big issue that we need to tackle,” said Fronden.

“This event helps the cause and you can have some fun and get ready for hockey season,” said Hilken.

Donations and funds from the event are going to Sources of Strength, a peer-to-peer support group that started in the Duluth school district this year at Duluth East and Denfeld.

“The main goal is to eventually create peer leaders in a sense that can create a bridge between student and faculty and resources that can help if you’re struggling,” said Shanze Hayee, a high school student and spokesperson for Strength of Sources.

Peers are trained on techniques they can use to help those struggling with mental health. Hayee said students have had a positive reaction about the mental health effort.

“You connect people with resources of strength in their lives to help create a better environment in terms of mental health,” said Hayee.

“Being touched by suicide personally myself and all of the parents, I don't want to see it happen to anybody else,” said Fronden.

Several booths at the event provided information on local mental health resources.

Hockey pucks, shirts, and bracelets with the number 8, Hunter's favorite number, were sold at the event.

The Fronden family hopes to make this effort grow every year, knowing they’re making a difference in the community and honoring Hunter's memory.

"I don’t know if I’ll ever really know how many people we’ve touched because a lot of people don’t want to talk about this, but by us doing this we are raising awareness in showing that there is support for everybody here,” said Fronden.

A dinner and raffle for the Skate for 8 event is taking place at Clyde Iron Works from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

To learn more about Skate for 8, click here.


Alejandra Palacios

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