RED DEAR - Two of the many things that make Canada such a great country are its willingness to welcome newcomers and its passion for hockey.
Both of these themes are at the forefront of the work being done by the Hockey Alberta Foundation.
Formed in 2001, the mission of the foundation is “Improving the quality of life of Albertans through hockey.”
The foundation’s main tool in this mission is their Every Kid Every Community (EKEC) program.
“Every Kid, Every Community is about eliminating barriers and getting kids into the game of hockey,” said Tim Leer, Executive Director for the Hockey Alberta Foundation. “It’s a grant program for local communities to access and to get hockey going, whatever it may look like, ball hockey, try hockey days, whatever it might be that will work in their community to get kids in the game.”
This week, the Hockey Alberta Foundation Golf Classic, their largest annual fundraiser, teed off at the Stewart Creek Golf Club in Canmore. The sold out event was a huge success, raising over $90,000.
“This is our key fundraiser, so it’s very important and all the money’s going towards Every Kid, Every Community, so it is key, and a big portion of what we do for the year,” Leer explained.
A number of past, present and future NHLers took part in this week’s golf classic. Leer says it doesn’t take much arm twisting to get them out.
“You make the call or send a text out and the answer comes back fairly quick about ‘Sure, I’ll be there,’ especially the ones that have been here before. They come back year after year, and even the new invites, there’s no trouble getting them. So we appreciate their support and couldn’t do it without them.”
Among this year’s celebrity supporters was Cale Makar, star defenceman for the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL and first round draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche. Makar said it meant a lot to him to help support grassroots hockey.
“It’s really cool to see that they want to grow the game of hockey in Alberta,” he said. “We have such a true hockey history. Just the fact that they want to grow that reassures me that there’s going to be a lot more history to come.”
A number of other events have selected Every Kid Every Community as their charity of choice, including Curtis Glencross’ Roughstock Rodeo and Poker Event.
“Anytime you can help out families who may need some assistance getting their kids into hockey, it’s definitely rewarding,” Glencross said prior to teeing off at the golf classic. “Every kid that wants to play hockey should be able to play hockey.”
Another unique and inspiring program operated by the foundation is Rinks to Links, which gives kids who would not otherwise have the means the opportunity to participate in both hockey and golf.
“It’s only a few years old, but it’s been very effective,” said Leer. “We have a group of kids coming from Calgary, new Canadians -- they’ll try golf here at Stewart Creek with the pros, and they will then head to the rink and try hockey for the very first time. They’ll be suited up with gear from Comries Sports Equipment Bank out of Calgary.”
Leer says anyone looking to learn more about the Hockey Alberta Foundation, or to lend their support, can head to the Hockey Alberta website.
“Getting kids in the game – that’s what Hockey Alberta is about and the Hockey Alberta Foundation. The access and helping out communities is key.”
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