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Criminal Justice Update

Honoring a pair of heroes

Attorney General Dave Yost dropped the puck at the Toledo Memorial Classic in late January, helping to kick off a charity hockey game to honor fallen Toledo Police Officers Anthony Dia and Brandon Stalker.

The event, held Jan. 30 at the Huntington Center in Toledo, pitted the Toledo Police Department against Columbus’ finest. The families of the fallen officers assisted with the puck drop, and AG Yost gave both teams a pregame pep talk.

“What a great way to remember these heroes,” the AG said later, during a sideline interview. “They lost their lives in the line of duty, but they were heroes long before their watch ended. They were heroes every single day that they showed up for work knowing what might be required of them.”

The game was organized by the Columbus-based First Responder Face-Off Foundation, through its Hockey Helping Heroes program and in partnership with the Toledo Public Schools Foundation, which runs the Toledo Police Department’s Fallen Officer Memorial Scholarship.

More than $13,500 was raised from ticket sales, with the proceeds benefiting a scholarship fund named in memory of Dia and Stalker. Graduating seniors in Toledo Public Schools who want to pursue a career in public safety — whether as a police officer, firefighter, paramedic or emergency medical technician — are eligible to apply for the scholarships.

“Everybody knows that college is increasingly expensive every year,” AG Yost said, “and what we’re seeing is, as police forces professionalize — and they are, all across the country and certainly across Ohio — more and more forces need you to have a two-year or even a four-year degree for the job. Helping young people pay for that education is so important.”

Dia and Stalker were killed on the job within seven months of each other — Dia in July 2020, Stalker in January 2021. At that time, COVID-19 restrictions called for social distancing, keeping organizers from holding the fundraiser sooner.

“We wanted to do this game a year ago, but unfortunately weren’t able to get it done because of the restrictions,” said Don Zender, director of the First Responder Face-Off Foundation. 

The Toledo Walleye, a professional hockey team that competes in the ECHL, donated the venue — the Huntington Center is the team’s home ice rink — for the event.

Zender said the Columbus Police Department’s hockey team got involved to show its support for its law enforcement family in Toledo.

The hockey game ended in a 1-1 tie.

AG Yost tweeted after the game: “As appropriate for a benefit game remembering fallen officers, there was no final face-off to break the tie.”

For more information about Hockey Helping Heroes, visit