Through tragedy comes a positive as The Aubri Brown Club leaves its mark in Sioux City
Year two a "slam dunk" success for Sioux City's Aubri Brown Game
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – Curtis Brown put it perfectly... Hockey is the ultimate team game.
“It’s the greatest sport in the world and it has the greatest people in the world,” Brown said. “If you go back to the fabric of this game, it’s built on helping each other. Those within the sport don’t know any other way, and that’s why it’s the ultimate team sport.
“You need your linemates, you need your goalie and you need each other. And the same could be said for us.”
Along with having teammates on the ice, Brown has seen the importance of having them away from the rink first-hand. And in recent years, his focused has shifted to helping those in need.
He and his wife, Ami, tragically lost their daughter, Aubri, to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in September of 2005. She was just four months old at the time.
Fast forward to today and that tragedy has sparked a positive with The Aubri Brown Club. A foundation the Brown family started back in 2007, the Aubri Brown Club was created to assist any family that has lost a child under any circumstance. All the way from birth up to 18.
The foundation will cover anything from funeral expenses to counseling or even groceries — whatever is needed throughout the grieving process.
In a sport that’s full of small worlds and connections, hockey has brought the Aubri Brown Club to northwest Iowa.
“It just goes to show how special the community hockey is,” Garrett Brown said. “My parents were able to build something special with the (Aubri Brown Club) and to see how much it’s grown and the way people have embraced it here in Sioux City, it means a lot to me and my family.”
Garrett is currently in his second full season with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers. A 2022 fourth-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets and a Denver commit, Brown has two goals and 13 points in 32 games with the Musketeers this season. He also hoisted the Clark Cup with the team last spring.
Garrett was just 1 when his sister passed and doesn’t have any recollection of her or the immediate aftermath, besides what his parents have told him over the years.
However, he’s proud to carry on Aubri’s legacy.
“It’s hard and it’s emotional for sure, and honestly, that could’ve been me,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s incredible my parents have been able to make such a positive out of it. That’s the most impressive part of it and Sioux City has been so welcoming with both myself and the foundation.
“When you look in the stands and see people wearing Aubri Brown Club hats and bidding on jerseys, it just goes to show how special the support is here and it means a lot.”
Of the 32 games Brown has skated in this winter, there’s one that holds special meaning. And not because of the result or an individual performance.
The Musketeers hosted their second annual Aubri Brown Game against Lincoln last Sunday with Garrett on the ice, Curtis behind the Lincoln bench and Ami in the stands.
Every player on the Musketeers roster donned a gold jersey with “THE AUBRI BROWN CLUB” in green across the front and the foundation’s butterfly logo on the chest. Over $16,000 was raised from an in-game jersey auction.
“Everywhere has a cause for cancer or every town has a cause for Alzheimer's. But there are no other causes in this town like this,” Musketeers CEO Travis Morgan said. “This is a very, very, very specific thing that isn’t a cookie-cutter non-profit organization and it’s been a slam dunk. Because if you ever have a child, you can relate.
“The number one fear in every parent is to lose their child and if it ever happens, the biggest question is now what? This is an organization that says we’re here to take care of you. And for us as an organization, Aubri Brown Club is very special to us and it’s going to get bigger every year.”
“I’ve seen it firsthand the last two years with everything Sioux City does. They support it with full force,” Ami Brown added. “I think that’s really remarkable and it’s a true community. It’s beautiful to see and we’re super thankful the people here have supported us how they have.”
Join us this Sunday in support of the @AubriBrownClub with the Musketeers will be wearing these specialty jerseys, that are available for purchase through a silent auction during the game.— Sioux City Musketeers (@Musketeerhockey) February 2, 2023
Purchase Tickets Right Here: https://t.co/ucnuNfbrxO pic.twitter.com/0L0xFdiB0O
The Musketeers first hosted an Aubri Brown night last February where the team wore warm-up jerseys and funds were raised throughout the night. The organization took it a step further this season as the jerseys remained on for the game and Ami dropped a ceremonial faceoff between her husband and son.
Even though Garrett may not be on the ice next season, the Aubri Brown Club isn’t going anywhere in Sioux City either. The Musketeers and Stars have already discussed an Aubri Brown weekend going forward along with a potential alumni game and other future ideas.
“What I’m excited about too is the future of this and where we can take it here in Sioux City,” Morgan said. “Plus the spider web effect it can have. All of the boys are wearing Aubri Brown hats and when they go play at North Dakota or Minnesota, or Michigan, they’re going to be taking it with them. So it’s still something that’s in its infancy and I’m excited to see where it can go.”
SUCH AN HONOR to be supported by your team and community! We are SO BLESSED to be apart of this amazing organization, @Musketeerhockey and the @USHL 🦋 https://t.co/WgKLIKW9Ms— The Aubri Brown Club (@AubriBrownClub) February 5, 2023
There’s also special meaning to the Musketeers organization as the Aubri Brown Club stepped in following the tragic loss of Carter Van Meeteren.
When Curtis and Ami first started the foundation in 2007, both agreed they would’ve been happy if they could help just one family. Never in their wildest dreams would they have imagined it’d balloon into what it has today.
“We didn’t know what we were getting into at first,” Curtis Brown said. “Although we experienced a tragedy and it was something you wouldn’t wish upon anybody, the reality is you’ve got to acknowledge we’re not in control.
“Bad things happen and that’s the reality of life. But at the same time, you don’t have to stay there. Everybody’s going to go through something they didn’t sign up for and we’re no different. But it’s how you respond to it. And our response was there’s got to be other people going through something similar, so how can we help?”
They’ve responded by helping 395 families, including 76 in the past year alone.
The organization puts on multiple events throughout the year including a golf outing every August and a 3-on-3 youth hockey jamboree in December. Along with events in Sioux City, Lincoln and Anchorage.
A local country radio station in San Jose (KRTY) also donates proceeds to the foundation and anyone can donate on the Aubri Brown Club website as well.
“Any tragedy is going to consume you but the question is how are you going to let it consume you. And we wanted it to consume us in a positive way,” Ami Brown said. “I don’t really think there was a different alternative and we’re not special for doing what we’ve done. And I’ve always felt this is how God wanted us to use our platform to help others and this is part of life.
“So I hope and pray that people see they can be the change. Look at how much change can happen from a crappy situation and that’s unfortunately what it can take. We are hopefully changing the lives of families that have lost children and to me, that’s what it’s about.”
While Garrett continues to carve out his budding career in the midwest, his parents will be watching proudly back at their home in southern California.
No matter where hockey takes Garrett or the family, the Aubri Brown Club will forever have its place in Sioux City.
“It’s truly amazing seeing how a tragic event has turned into such a positive,” Garrett Brown said. “It’s something that a lot of families go through and for my parents to realize that and want to do something to help people in such a time of need, it’s truly unbelievable. And we’re super fortunate of all the support we’ve received here in Sioux City.”
“Did we ever expect to be standing in Sioux City, Iowa when we started this? Absolutely not,” Curtis Brown added. “But that’s part of the fun. It’s truly humbling and we’re going to see how many more people we can help along the way.”