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Make Them Remember Your Name: How Thomas Dunn Inspired Kraft Hockeyville Win

Les McLaughlin

The story of Thomas Dunn, whose life — and death — brought together a community in love and unity, propelled the Tom Donovan Arena in Renous to win the title of Kraft Hockeyville 2019 on Saturday night. The fourteen-year old son of Dawn and Harry, and brother to Aaron, passed away accidentally in June.

As winner of the annual competition, the thirty-five year old Tom Donovan Arena receives a cash prize of $250,000 as well as the opportunity to host an NHL pre-season game. The three runner-up communities of Rich Valley, Alberta; Saint-Polycarpe, Quebec and Wilkie, Saskatchewan will receive $25,000 each for arena upgrades. This marks a first time win for the province of New Brunswick in the competition’s 14 year history.

The organizing committee for the local bid was formed in January in memory of Dunn, the young athlete from Keenans, and included members of his family, as well as family members of the arena’s namesake, Tom Donovan.

An outpouring of support quickly grew, especially after the announcement that the arena made the Top 4. Hundreds, if not thousands, of businesses and organizations all over the province of New Brunswick began setting up window displays, posters and signs marked with Dunn’s signature T6 memorial logo and NeverDunn hashtag. Communities all across New Brunswick and Canada rallied their support. Backing also came from NHL players Jake Allen of the St. Louis Blues, Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins and Brad Malone of the Edmonton Oilers.

Online voting opened on Friday, March 29 and lasted for thirty-two-and-a-half hours. Local businesses offered free wifi and kiosks for voters. Blackville School and the Renous Recreation Centre opened hubs for the total duration of the voting period.

After a series of tragic deaths in Blackville and surrounding areas in the past year and a half, a win for the arena in Renous shines a much needed light on the grieving community.

Thomas Dunn not only lives on in the lives of the six people his organs gave a second chance to, or the two people he gave the gift of sight to — but his legacy now lives on in the arena he spent much of his life in; an arena that will endure for generations thanks to his story that touched the nation and led to the Kraft Hockeyville win. The win, announced at about 11:45pm on Saturday night, marks a fitting tribute to Dunn, who would have turned fifteen years old just fifteen minutes later.

Thomas’ mother Dawn always told him when he hit the ice to “make them remember your name”… he certainly has.


Become an Organ Donor

For information on how to become an Organ Donor, contact Service New Brunswick at 1 (888) 762-8600. For information about Organ Donation, contact the New Brunswick Organ Donation Program at (506) 643-6848. For information about Tissue Donation, contact the New Brunswick Eye and Tissue Bank at (506) 632-5541.

Tom Donovan Arena Wins Kraft Hockeyville

Renous, N.B. named 2019 Kraft Hockeyville winner!

Congratulations to Renous, N.B., the 2019 Kraft Hockeyville winner!

Posted by Sportsnet on Saturday, March 30, 2019

66 Responses to Make Them Remember Your Name: How Thomas Dunn Inspired Kraft Hockeyville Win

  1. I’m so proud of our community and inspired by the strength of Thomas’ family. This is a well deserved win for the Tom Donovan Arena.

  2. Congratulations: Shows what tireless work and the power in numbers can do when the local community and the community at large come together, determined to make a difference. Your mission is NEVER DUNN until you accomplish what you set out to do with determination and great community spirit.

  3. Congratulations: Shows what tireless work and the power in numbers can do when the local community and the community at large come together, determined to make a difference. Your mission is NEVER DUNN until you accomplish what you set out to do.

  4. Well said/written Les!!!
    We all worked together and we “gotter done”.
    Anything is possible if you work as a team and this proved it. Thanks to ALL Globel wide.

  5. Very nice ,Leslie .We certainly will “Remember his name “.It is amazing what a small community can do when we work together!

  6. Congratulation Renous for the Hockeyville win. It brought me to tears to hear this. I was born in New Castle and my family are from Blackville. I now live in Milton Ontario and I have been following. I would like to say sorry for your loss to the Dunn family. People will remember his name.

  7. Congratulations RENOUS! An Exciting and emotional win for the community! Community strong and community proud! My heart goes out to the Dunn family! You are an inspiration to all!

  8. All I can say is the community has three things, Heart, Love, Healing! Thank ALL the people for making Krafthockeyville 2019!

  9. So well deserved. Congratulations to the whole community of Renous/Blackville. Congratulations to everyone who voted, far and near. Well done!!! #gotterdunn

  10. What better of a Birthday present than bringing home a big win for the Tom Donovan Arena. Watching small communities come together I’ve never been more proud to call this place home. #neverdunn

  11. What an amazing and emotional victory for the town of Renous, NB and the Dunn family. This is just another great example of the outstanding things that can happen when our community rallies around a cause and it’s people!

    Communities build sport, and sport builds and strengthens communities!


  12. What a Win ! Such a great opportunity for all the people involved. Bravo to everyone! From start to end it was a team and province wide effort & Goal!
    When people join together, great things happen.
    THOMAS DUNN a name to remember always!

  13. Hard not to become emotional reading this story and seeing the reaction to Renous winning! what a beautiful tribute to this little man.

  14. My friends son also lost his life tragically in Blackville not long ago. My heart aches for these parents and the community but I know Marshall and Thomas are smiling down with big smiles. Thank you for sharing

  15. This is a wonderful piece. Thank you for the reminder that we have more in common than we do apart. Thank you for reminding us that even in times of the deepest grief and sorrow, there is Love. Thomas’ family and friends have suffered a terrible loss, one they will always feel deeply, but in their love for him, they found a wonderful way to honour him by giving the gift of healing to others. May we all strive to always be as gracious and caring. It is more than an arena – it is about community – it is about seeing each other’s needs – it is about doing the little we can so that it always adds to the best of what can and should be done. Les, you gift us with that reminder, too, by sharing this. Thank you.

  16. Such a sweet talented boy from a sweet family and community. Goosebumps and tears for the past 3 days! He is a reminder to us all how precious life is and how each of us can make an impact.

  17. He will always be remembered as the little boy who brought together thousands of people scattered over the world for a common purpose! It really was about more than hockey!

  18. There was a force behind this vote… someone was pushing us not to stop #neverdunn Beautiful beautiful Boy

  19. A very Handsome Boy.. Be Proud Blackville….
    I didn’t know him, but I am sure if he is looking down on Blackville he is a mighty proud Boy for his Town …God Love Him

  20. Such an amazing and awe inspiring event , coming together as a huge family …such happiness in such times

  21. It is sad the loss of a child and so young… but it is nice to see a positive come out of the negative….. and a great way to remember this young man….. hats off to all that was involved …..

  22. Beautiful tribute, God bless his family and community.
    Happy Birthday Thomas Dunn and Tom Donovan! Heaven is celebrating I’m sure

  23. So happy for our small community! It was wonderful to see everyone coming together for a united cause. We are small in numbers but big in heart, compassion and determination!
    And for Dawn and Harry, the memory of your precious angel will live on through all the lives he touched.

  24. Happy for Blackville/Renous and especially for the Dunn family, I don’t know them but somehow through this process we all came together like a family! Something else in this story that should stand out above all …. become an organ donor….Thomas lives on in someone else who was saved because of it!

  25. And boy did he ever. I will never forget this kid. Such a good friend to Austin ..his parents I will forever love. Thomas left such an impact.

  26. Amazing !! I am soo proud of our community. Thanks so much to everyone that voted, we did it ! . Happy birthday in heaven sweet Thomas

  27. What a sweet boy….bless his heart!!! He is looking down upon us so proud for keeping his memory alive…he deserves to be remembered!!!!

  28. Even in our greatest sorrow and grief – there are opportunities to love as we have been Loved. Our challenge is to thank God in all our circumstances, to see Christ in all others and to seek to offer to others what we seek for ourselves. Thank you for this wonderful piece

  29. You are a true Angel, Thomas Dunn, and today, on your 15th Birthday, the gift that you have given our little community is overwhelming and just goes to show what we can do when we pull together to getterdunn. Your memory will live on for ever and ever, not only through your Mom, Dad, and Big Brother, but also through every individual in our community and beyond…… Heaven is so lucky to have you, Sweet Boy, and a very Happy Birthday To You

  30. Amazing how everyone came together. Last night just proved when small communities have their mind set on something, they getterdunn. To all the people who got this started a big congratulations for a job well done.To Dawn, Harry and Aaron,you are all wondering people and we are so happy for you guys to have been part of this whole Krafthockeyville experience. Little Thomas you definitely was taken to young, but you legacy will never be forgotten. You have inspired and touch so many lives every where 💙 Happy birthday in heaven sweet 😇 and keep shining down from up above #NeverDunn T6 ❤️❤️😇😘

  31. I am a huge hockey mom and this story makes me rejoice that my roots are from the Miramichi where hockey runs in our blood. Thomas you are incredible and the fact that you brought this to your community will never be forgotten.

  32. This is huge for Renous, and for the entire Miramichi Area where many of us were born, and played hockey growing up.

  33. Being a part of this whole event was amazing so proud of our small community for the effort put into this from the smallest task to the most grandiose.We will enjoy our rink for years to come and all the teams we compete with also .Thomas has been and will a household name forever . Many famous athletes got their start in small communities where the support and encouragement is plentiful and free.Proud to be a country girl 🏒🥅🤩

  34. Wow! So proud of my home town. Rink was built 2 yrs after I graduated high school but I remember my younger brother playing hockey there and breaking his leg at the rink. Amazed that Thomas’s organs helped 6 others and gave eyesight to two. And to Top it off Thomas’s Birthday was the day after the win. It’s a God thing, no doubt in my mind!

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