INNISFAIL – With their 2020/21 season cancelled, local minor hockey players wanted to do something special for the community with the hard-earned cash they fundraised to excel at their beloved sport.
Like the 230-plus other local minor hockey players, each player on the U13 Palliser Chevrolet Flyers team was heartbroken their Innisfail Minor Hockey Association season was cancelled last month, after being shutdown since Dec.13 when the Alberta government announced tough sweeping COVID restrictions.
But even with the profound disappointment of a season lost, the team still wanted to somehow do something special. The team’s manager and head coach came up with an idea.
At the start of the season the kids hosted a skate-a-thon fundraiser to help pay for some of the high costs of playing minor hockey.
“Especially during this time. It is really, really hard for people,” said Kristen Spatz, the team’s manager. “Each family has to put in extra money that is called seed money to be able to pay for extra ice time, and hockey fees.
"I didn’t want our team to have to do that because we have already paid Innisfail hockey to play hockey, which is a lot, so I said, ‘let’s do a fundraiser’ at the beginning of the season."
And that’s when the idea of hosting a skate-a-thon at the Arena came into play.
“They go to grandma or grandpa and say, ‘I’m doing a skate-a-thon and I am going to be skating laps at the Arena on this day. Can you sponsor me? Some people would donate 20 bucks or some would say, ‘I will give you two dollars a lap’’’ said Spatz.
“We raised over $2,000 doing that at the very beginning. Two weeks later the season was shut down,” she added, referring to the strict provincial COVID restrictions last December.
“I just mentioned to the team that Kelly Mayhew, the head coach and I decided that since we had enough money, we are going to put some away for a wind up for when we are able and I am going to get coaches and players gifts, and we are going to donate the rest to the food bank.”
On March 6, Spatz and Mayhew, along with their own kids from the team, met Judy Cooper, co-coordinator of the Innisfail and District Food Bank, at the outdoor rink at 54th Avenue and 37th Street and presented her with a $500 cheque.
Cooper said the agency was “grateful and thankful” for the donation, especially knowing the kids on the team wanted to support the town’s vulnerable.
The demand for service at the food bank is now at about 25 hampers per week, about five short from what is considered a high demand, she said.
“There always will be a (need), I think,” said Cooper.