WMBD/WYZZ-TV - PEKIN, Ill. - Cole Ruwe admits putting on the Rivermen sweater for the first time was special for a kid from Pekin.
"It's tough to hold back the emotions a little bit just because it does mean a lot for me to be here and play in front of my family every night," said the Rivermen defenseman.
The Rivermen captain is trying to keep hockey going in his hometown. So he put that Rivermen uniform away for a night and worked for tips at Yesterday's Bar & Grill in Pekin with the money going to Pekin Youth Hockey.
"Times aren't great in Pekin," said Ruwe. "There's not many teams so it's nice to raise some money to keep the ice going."
Ruwe brought some of his teammates with him to wait tables and make drinks at the bar.
"For an organization like the Rivermen and Cole to give back is big and really helps our organization," said Chad Rife, who has a son playing youth hockey in Pekin.
Ruwe and his Rivermen friends raised about $500 Thursday night.
"It's nice to get to Pekin and get players here. Most of (my teammates) are from out of the state, out of the country. It's nice to bring them to Pekin, show them my town and let them have a good time here."