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ESPN anchor uses love for hockey to help others

Posted at 12:16 PM, Feb 16, 2016

When an NHL or college hockey game goes into overtime during the season, you'll likely see the hashtag #bucciovertimechallenge flooding your Twitter feed.

Related: 7 Sports Cave: Breakfast with Buccigross

The hashtag, created by ESPN Sportscenter anchor John Buccigross, continues to grow, as does his love for hockey. Born in Pittsburgh with a father from Boston, Buccigross said he has been around the sport for his entire life.

The anchor has a major fan base on Twitter with nearly 300,000 followers on his @Buccigross account and his overtime game on the social network has become wildly popular. 

The idea is simple. When a professional or sometimes college hockey game goes into overtime, Buccigross tweets out the hashtag #bucciovertimechallenge.

Participants tweet back with the same hashtag, followed by a player from each team who they think will score the game-winning goal. Buccigross then retweets a certain number of people at random who picked the correct goal-scorer, and those winners get a #bucciovertimechallenge shirt.

"It was a little game we came up with on the set of NHL 2Night," Buccigross said via email. "A game would go to OT and Barry Melrose, Ray Ferraro and I would throw a dollar on the set and pick a guy from each team."

He said he brought the game to Twitter when he joined in 2009 and watched it slowly take off. Fans who don't win but still want #bucciovertimechallenge gear have the opportunity to buy apparel on his website bucciot.com.

What started with a few shirts has now grown into a full line with "buckets" aka hats, accessories and even baby onesies. Fans can buy #bucciovertimechallenge gear, as well as #CawlidgeHawkey gear with the colors of their favorite teams.

If you thought Buccigross is working with many people to get the apparel ready and then sell it, you would be mistaken.

"I'm a one-man-band," he said. "I order the stuff, keep it at my house, package it up and trudge it to the post office just about every day."

He also doesn't keep any of the proceeds from selling items.

"By how much stuff I've sold, between #bucciovertimechallenge and #cawlidgehawkey apparel and products, I've given away over $150,000 to hockey led or themed charities over the last two years," Buccigross said.

According to Buccigross, he gives to some charities each year, like the Jack Jablonski Fund.

Jablonski was playing high school hockey when he suffered a nasty hit that left him quadriplegic. According to the fund's website, an outpouring of local and national support in 2012 helped Jablonski begin his journey toward skating again.

Buccigross has also helped individuals directly.

"I paid for a Xavier Club Hockey player's tuition last fall," Buccigross said. That player was Dar Faroughi.

According to Buccigross, he was calling a Minnesota/Ohio State game in March 2015 when he met Faroughi's father in a tavern. They started talking about hockey, and Buccigross found out the man's son played club hockey at Xavier. When the man told Buccigross he was a mailman, he donated $10,000 on July 1, 2015 to help pay for Faroughi's fall semester.

Buccigross went on a donation spree on July 1, 2015, donating nearly $50,000 to many different charities, including the USA Hockey Foundation, Travis Roy Foundation, Team25 Kids and much more.

In fact, Buccigross recently gave $1,000 to a fund to help Ira Podell, a sports journalist in New York City who is fighting for his life after being diagnosed with a brain tumor and then suffering a stroke.

If you would like more information on #bucciovertimechallenge, including how to buy apparel and more of the charities the proceeds have helped, visit bucciot.com.