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'Jake Saves' eclipses $10,000, with no signs of stopping

Kitchener Rangers goaltender Jacob Ingham, along with his family, have been instrumental over the last year in getting the word out on blood donations
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File photo of Kitchener Rangers goaltender Jacob Ingham. Mark Pare/KitchenerToday

What a difference a year makes.

It started out as wanting to help a cause close to them last February.  And now Kitchener Rangers goaltender Jacob Ingham and family have become some of the bigger advocates for blood donations.

"It only takes around five to eight minutes," Ingham says.

"You're saving people's lives.  A lot of people, it just looks like a bag of blood to them, but it's lives for (others)."

Course the family is no stranger to that.  Ingham's grandparents were involved in a serious crash outside Marathon back in August 2018, as they were headed from Barrie to Winnipeg.

They required a number of blood transfusions in their recovery.

"It was kind of a long process after (the crash)," Ingham said, "We really focused on getting them help, and kind of getting them the recovery and the rehab that they needed.  Credit to my dad and my aunt, they did a lot and helping get them back where they needed to be and getting them stable."

"And (also) credit to (my grandparents), just kind of finding a routine and getting back to normal life after that accident, which was pretty severe for them."

From there, the family decided to take a look into ways they could make a difference.

And blood donations came to mind.

"My dad and mom, they both were donating blood prior to this accident anyways, and so they met a lot of the people from the Canadian Blood Services," he said.

Ingham says Elaine St. Pierre, the Territory Manager at Canadian Blood Services in his hometown of Barrie, helped to get the family involved as they tried to figure out how to get a campaign up and running.

Enter Stu Middleton, one of the co-founders of "Hockey Gives Blood", a non-profit initiative started in 2018 by former hockey players looking to make a difference following the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

Ingham reached out to Middleton about a year ago, when he was still a member of the Mississauga Steelheads.

The Jake Saves Campaign was born.  Every save he made through his first 50 games last season contributed $4 to the cause.  He made 1,393 stops, so the campaign raised $5,572.

"(Stu's) been a great fit for us," Ingham said, "and we've been so happy to be able to work with him, and be involved in that campaign so much."

Ingham became a player ambassador, and was the first ever recipient of the Dayna Brons Honourary Award.

Brons was the Broncos' athletic therapist/equipment manager, and one of the 16 who died April 6, 2018 when the SJHL team was headed to a playoff game in Nipawin, Saskatchewan.

And when he was traded to Kitchener in the offseason, the Rangers helped him take that next step in the campaign.

The family contribution was upped to $5, and the Rangers organization decided to match that, making the total $10 for every save this season.

Ingham's faced a lot of rubber in the Kitchener goal, handling 1,091 of a possible 1,183 shots, with the last couple games pushing the Jake Saves Campaign over $10,000.

"That's a pretty impressive number, and we already surpassed the number of saves and charitable donations last year, so that's pretty cool," he said, "And just how much the Rangers advertise it and getting the blood drive, and creating '68 Day Blood Drive,' getting that out there and how supportive the fans are about it, it's been impressive.  And credit to them and that's why they're such a great organization."

So about that 68 Day Blood Drive.

It's in addition to the Jake Saves Campaign, and another way to encourage people to donate blood, running January 24 to March 31.

(CLICK HERE to see how you can register for the drive.)

"It's going to be really cool to see the number of people who have donated," Ingham says, "It's going to be incredible to see the amount of lives that are saved, just by all these donations from the Rangers fans and people in the Kitchener area, and people that have seen my story and just want to get involved.  That's going to be really impressive to see, and really looking forward to that."

Ingham says he, and a couple teammates, are headed to the clinic on Bridgeport Road in Waterloo for Wednesday, February 12 to hang out and talk with donors, as well as sign autographs.

Between the campaigns, money raised and blood donations, Ingham is pretty pleased with how things have turned out.

"It's something that I wasn't sure how hard it was going to be to start, and what it was going to be like to get that campaign going.  But just to have the success it's had so far, and the donations of blood and charitable donations that have been made to Hockey Gives Blood and Canadian Blood Services, it's been incredible," he said.

"To kind of look back and see the number of people, and me being one of the first (player ambassadors), it's been pretty awesome to see."

Ranger fans can say the same thing about Ingham's play on the ice.

A 23-5-4 record, a 2.76 goals against average (4th in OHL) and a .922 save percentage (2nd in OHL) through 33 appearances, the 19-year old is making a case to jump to the next level of his hockey career.

While the sixth rounder (2018) has yet to sign his entry-level deal with the LA Kings, there is hope he can accomplish that goal and take this campaign with him to the next level.

"Blood donations and stem cell donations in European countries, it's basically the norm and a lot of people do it," he said, "Here, it's a little bit quieter. There's a lot of people that do it, but there's a lot of people that don't really know too much about it around here."

"I think the end goal is just to eventually trying just to get it the norm here in North America.  It's not going to be changing just like that, but if we can help do our part in that way, I think that'd be awesome."

For now, if you need a reminder at a Kitchener Rangers game, simply look at the number 68 Ingham wears on his sweater.

The six looks like a 'G' for give, and the eight looks like a 'B' for blood.

He has a message to everyone that's helped out.

"I'm really thankful for what everyone's done," he said, "The Kitchener Rangers, and (Media and Communications Manager) Dan Polischuk and everyone working here, and just how well they've helped spread the word and get the things out there."

"And to the people donating blood, I just want to say thank you and it really does make a difference."

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