What started as an act of kindness has turned into an opportunity to win the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup.
An annual, national event to showcase the best acts of kindness from youth hockey teams now has a representative from Regina. The peewee B Regina Rebels girls’ hockey team recently raised over $5,000 to purchase an apparatus called the “Kaye trainer” for the Regina SuperHEROS hockey team.
The HEROS (Hockey Education Reaching out Society) program gives marginalized kids a chance to get onto the ice and play the game of hockey.
The Good Deeds Cup looks for the best “good deed” from a peewee hockey team across the country. The winning team gets $100,000 to donate to the charity of their choice.
The money the Rebels raised changed one of the SuperHEROS’ lives. Kyle suffers from physical disabilities. For months he was limited to sitting in a chair on the ice. They would pass him the puck and he would shoot it; this was the extent of his hockey experience. The money raised allowed the program to purchase a Kaye trainer, which is a harness that allows Kyle to stand upright and skate. It’s the first of its kind in Western Canada.
“It was the girls on the team that brought that forward and came up with the idea,” said Rebels head coach Nathan Strueby. “I was pretty proud of them for doing it and excited for them to bring it forward.”
The idea all started when one of the girls on the Rebels, Mila Snell, had a younger sister with special needs join the SuperHEROS team. The program came to Regina this past fall.
Executive director of HEROS Hockey, Kevin Hodgson, said: “These kids were always stuck behind the glass being their brothers’ and sisters’ biggest fans.”
And that’s exactly what Ava was. Being the younger sister of Mila and unable to play hockey herself, she made sure she supported Mila as much as possible. Ava would always go and watch her bigger sister Mila play hockey.
“She never let on that it bothered her, but you could tell that she would love to be out there,” said Ava’s mother, Christine. “She was dedicated to cheering them on and being at every game and practice and giving them high fives when they went on and off the ice.”
When the program launched, Mila and her teammates made signs to go and cheer on Ava and the rest of the SuperHEROS just like Ava did at Rebels games.
“HEROS allows them to live the dream of playing hockey and make it on to the ice,” said Hodgson.
It gives kids with special needs the chance to meet every Saturday and practise for an hour. Gear and uniforms are provided at no charge and volunteer coaches assist the kids in skating, passing and shooting.
“We have been waiting for a program like this for a while so when it came we jumped on it right away,” said Christine. “Ava has always been wanting to play hockey ever since she was a little girl and this finally gave her that chance.”
The Rebels hockey team wanted to raise the money regardless. [“The Good Deeds Cup] came after,” said Hodgson. “The girls drove the bus and it was really cool to see them so excited to do something for somebody else.”
The team released a video for their good deeds campaign on YouTube.
“Now their parents don’t have to say we have one child who plays hockey and one who’s a special needs child,” said Hodgson. “They don’t have to define their special needs child, they can now say we have two hockey players.”
The good deeds haven’t stopped. When the Rebels submitted their application they had raised over $4,000. It is now over $5,000.
“They are changing lives and they continue to do it,” said Hodgson. “They still come every week and volunteer, it’s not about the video. They see this as something important beyond the good deeds cup.
To see more hockey reporting from Adam Bent click here.