Hockey challenge raises $78K 0
Maria Church/ Canmore Leader Team Alberta players and coach Ron Casey, Banff-Cochrane MLA, far left, pose for a photo after winning the Wild Rose Hockey Challenge game held at the Canmore Recreation Centre on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2012. The charity hockey game brought in $78,000 for victim services organizations in the Wild Rose constituency.
Only in its fourth year running, the annual Wild Rose Hockey Challenge has now raised more than $200,000 for Victim Services in the Wild Rose constituency, which has organizer and Member of Parliament Blake Richards quite proud.
As he raised a cheque of $78,000 over his head Saturday afternoon - the total brought in by this year's game at the Canmore Recreation Centre - Richards thanked all of the supporters and players who came out for charity.
For Richards, raising money for victim services is an important cause.
"I hear the stories, right. As a member of parliament you have people call your office looking to get some help with the justice process, with the court process. It just tears at your heart when you hear some of the stories," he said before Saturday's game.
Richards noted that victims of crime are often overlooked in the justice system and charities such as victim services don't often get the same recognition as other charities.
"So we wanted to raise some money for them, help them and saw it as a way to give back a little bit more into the community," he said.
Four years ago Richards, with help for former NHL-er Sheldon Kennedy, came up with the concept of a charity hockey game with both hockey professionals and Canadian municipal, provincial and federal politicians.
This year's game saw several current NHL players join in the game, including Zach Boychuck from the Carolina Hurricanes and Nick Johnson from the Phoenix Coyotes.
Formed into two teams, Team Richards against Team Alberta, the battle for the Wild Rose Cup ensued as a humorous, mildly competitive game between the two evenly matched teams.
Playing to a 15-15 pur the game into a shoot-out. Team Alberta players, Dennis Polonich, a Detroit Red Wings alumni, and Claude Vilgrain, New Jersey Devils alumni, both scored against Team Richard's goalie, Peterborough MP Dean Del Mastro, while Team Richards saw Dwayne Hay, Calgary Flames alumni, and Richards himself stopped by former Canmore town councillor Ed Russell, giving the win to Team Alberta.
But at the end of the day the real winners were Victim Services from Aidrie to Banff, presented with the $78,000 check by Richards.
Peter Quinn, executive direction of Bow Valley Victim Services Association, was one of the four directors of Victim Services in the Wild Rose constituency to accept the check.
Quinn explained that Victim Services provides immediate, as well as long-term, assistance to victims of crime as well as trauma and crisis.
"People are going to do better the quicker they get help the quicker that help can assist them in recovery of that trauma," Quinn said.
He added that an important goal of Victim Services is education because a victim of crime is going through the criminal justice system they are often unaware of the resources available and their rights and entitlements.
The funding for Victim Services comes from several sources including both provincial and municipal budgets but Quinn said even with donations, most branches in Alberta are faced with a short fall in the budget. Without proper funding, Victim Services is limited in what they can provide.
Quinn noted that community fundraising such as the Wild Rose Challenge help immensely.
"That is why this event is so invaluable to us because it helps provide the shortfall in our budget that we can't generate through these other means and it also creates awareness because a lot of times people don't know our services are there," he said.
"The reality is, everybody at times in their lives becomes a victim of crime, it's not a system where it is us and them . crime affects everyone and trauma affects everyone.
"We are certainly appreciative of Blake and his office putting this together," Quinn said on behalf of the four Wild Rose area Victim Services societies.
For more information and volunteer opportunities at Victim Services in the Bow Valley, go online to bowvalleyvictimservices.org.