In the wake of Natick High School senior Justin Bailey's death last week, Natick residents and the Massachusetts hockey community have united to remember the hockey player and raise money for a fund set up in his name.
The town will come together tonight under one roof at the Natick VFW post to collect donations for the Justin Bailey Memorial Fund at Middlesex Savings Bank. The fund will help the Baileys cover the unexpected costs of burying their son.
"The Baileys never asked for anyone to do this; we just wanted to help out wherever we could," said Doug Rausch, whose son Jeffrey is also a senior hockey player and played with Bailey since age 5. Rausch, who is also good friends with Bailey's uncle, Bruce, helped establish the account, along with other hockey parents.
"I think everyone felt you should never have to pay money to bury your kid and we wanted to see if we could help with the immediate expenses of that," he said. "Everyone wants to help. No one really knew what to do and a very easy thing to do is to try to raise money. So, we thought we could try to help them with any needs they have going forward."
Natick High School junior Laila Fatimi didn't know Bailey, but like many other students, she was impacted by his death and inspired to give back. Since Bailey's death, the 16-year-old junior has been putting her artistic skills to use and offering temporary henna tattoos to her peers in exchange for donations to the Justin Bailey Memorial Fund. Fatimi paints Bailey's number "17," adorned with an angel wing, on her friends' skin to honor him. So far, the teen has raised about $50, but has ordered more henna and plans to offer more tattoos during lunch today and beyond.
"I have some friends on the hockey team and I asked them and they all loved [the idea]," said Fatimi. "I think it's just another way of showing how close the community is and just how amazing everyone has been.”
William Chase Arena was packed with fans Wednesday for the team's first game since Bailey's death. At the door, attendees offered up money from their pockets and the referees donated their pay for the game in Bailey's memory. All other hockey teams in the conference have been sporting the number 17 on their helmets and some even placed Justin's name on the game puck.
Natick's varsity hockey coach, Karl Infanger, said the community has offered strong support to the team since last Wednesday night. As the news of Bailey's death spread, he has received email condolences from his own college hockey teammates from as far as Canada as well as from other high school coaches.
"More than any other sport, hockey is a fraternity...it's a tight-knit community even though it's spread all around the globe," said Infanger. "The community itself in Natick— it has been outstanding."
The fundraiser tonight, organized by the Natick Hockey Alliance, will go from 7 p.m. to midnight at the Natick VFW, 113 West Central St. Donations will be collected at the door and there will be a silent auction and raffle. Pizza and snacks will be provided.
Donations to the Justin Bailey Memorial Fund can be made by mail to:
Justin Bailey Memorial Fund
c/o Middlesex Savings Bank
150 Commonwealth Rd., Wayland, MA 01778-4831