Alumnus’ donation in honour of deceased Rams player unacknowledged for months

The 2005 graduate wanted an engraved plaque placed on a seat to honour a friend who died after a three-year battle with cancer. (Rebecca Sedore / Ryersonian Staff)

Alex Husarewych wanted an engraved plaque placed on a seat to honour a friend who died after a three-year battle with cancer. (Rebecca Sedore/Ryersonian staff)

By Matthew Kennedy & Allie Coulman

A Ryerson alumnus donated $500 to name a seat at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in honour of his deceased friend, but the university did not provide an update after receiving his donation two months ago.

Alex Husarewych, who graduated in 2005, will play in this weekend’s alumni hockey game. He said he wanted an engraved plaque placed on a seat in the stands of the MAC to honour his friend, Andrew Brode, who recently died after a three-year battle with cancer.

Brode and Husarewych played together on the Rams team from 2002 – 2003.

“It angers me a little bit because I did want to have it for this alumni game that we’re playing this weekend,” he said. “It’s unfortunate it won’t be there because a lot of the guys are looking forward to it.”

When he made the donation, Husarewych chose seat 14 for Brode’s plaque because that was his jersey number at Ryerson.

“We set out to do this for him, to remember him properly,” he said.

In summer 2012, Ryerson introduced the Name Your Seat campaign. Through the campaign, alumni, students and the public can have an engraved plaque placed on a seat in the Ryerson Rams’ home rink.

The program garnered more than 300 donations by the end of 2012, bringing in more than $150,000. But as of December 2013, a total of 409 out of the 2,500 available seats have been named, according to the campaign’s website.

Immediately after Ryerson received Husarewych’s money in early December, he received an email saying they would contact him again soon. When he didn’t hear back in December, he said he assumed it was because of the winter break.

He emailed the office of university advancement on Jan. 14, 23 and 28 but has still received no response.

“The phone number and email that they gave me really didn’t go anywhere, like I never got a response through either of them,” Husarewych said.

After two months of silence, Husarewych took to Twitter to express his unhappiness.

“@RyersonU @Ryerson_Alumni so it continues. I give u 500 and then u ignore my calls, emails and now tweets #theft,” he tweeted.

Ryerson spokesman Michael Forbes said that he has no records of the multiple emails from Husarewych, but his tweet was responded to within six minutes.

However, the tweets that followed directed Husarewych to University Development, an office under the supervision of Adam Kahan, vice president of university advancement. Kahan signed the original email to Husarewych when he made the donation.

“It’s unfortunate that there was this gap,” Forbes said.

Kahan said the turnaround time from when the university receives the donation to when the plaque is displayed is on a set schedule; it is not determined by when a person donates the money.

“We can put them up at the same time over a couple of months, otherwise we’d be driving the company who produces the plaques, and ourselves, crazy. So this round will be March or April,” Kahan said.

Husarewych said he wishes the university had let him tell them Brode’s story.

The two became friends through hockey in high school. Brode, a year older than Husarewych, encouraged him to follow him to Ryerson for hockey and the information technology management program. He even put in a good word with the coach for Husarewych.

“Andrew and I played until Andrew passed away of leukemia in October,” Husarewych said. “It was something that meant a lot to us.”

They played together in many alumni games after graduating. Brode played his last alumni game two years ago at the George Bell Arena, despite ongoing treatment. He wasn’t able to play in last year’s game – the first at the MAC – because he’d just had a bone marrow transplant.

Husarewych will continue to honour his friend by playing on the Ram’s new home ice in the alumni game this weekend, while he continues to wait for a response from the university.

“It’s unfortunate that Ryerson hasn’t really stepped up to two people who really loved Ryerson,” Husarewych said. “I mean, him and I have a lot of fond memories of playing varsity hockey at Ryerson. You’d think if somebody is naming a seat there, you maybe want to know the story of it … rather than just kind of accept the money and that’s it.”

Forbes confirmed the engravers are scheduled for Feb. 20. Husarewych hadn’t heard that the order would be processed next week, but welcomed the action.

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on February 12, 2014.

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