Photo courtesy Fitch Photography
A community stands tall, its generosity magnifying the power of sport.
Appreciating that no child should be left on the sidelines, and the intrinsic lessons learned through the simple opportunity to participate, a sold-out crowd at the 2019 KidSport Richmond fundraising gala—Creating Community Champions—March 1 at the Hilton Vancouver Airport Hotel donated $74,500 to the local chapter.
“It shows what is possible when there’s synergy,” says KidSport Richmond chair Bob Jackson. “I can’t say enough about the community, the volunteers and the Hilton. We’re very fortunate.”
Honourary chair Bobby Singh has played an instrumental role in the gala since its inception six years ago. The popular Richmondite and former B.C. Lion has been able to reach out to his many friends in the world of pro sports, and they’ve always been quick to support the cause.
“(Former Lions teammates) Angus (Reid), Geroy (Simon) and (CFLer) Shea (Emery) and all those that come out shows what this means to them,” Singh says. “But we (athletes) just show up. The people donating money and the volunteers who do all the work behind the scenes are the heroes.”
Says Reid, a fellow Richmondite: “We’ve got to do whatever we need to do to make sure kids can play. The reason why athletes come back to this over and over again is because sport has changed their lives. It’s the reason we are the people we are and enjoy the friendships we have. We understand how important it was when we were kids to be able to play and we don’t want kid to not have that opportunity. No child should be left out for any reason.”
That includes, of course, a child whose family is dealing with financial challenges—which was the impetus for the creation of KidSport.
This year hosted by popular broadcaster and columnist Fred Lee and featuring Vancouver Canadians’ broadcaster Rob Fai, the 2019 gala attracted a group of name athletes whose presence made for a memorable and rewarding evening. Everyone at the fundraiser enjoyed the presence of a guest athlete at their table. The athletes included Olympic snowboarder and Richmond councillor Alexa Loo, Vancouver Whitecaps alum Carl Valentine, Olympic wrestler and now UFC fighter Arjan Bhullar, Olympic rowers Darcy Marquardt-Hortness and Kyle Hamilton, basketball great Ron Putzi, Paralympic curler Darryl Neighbour, and retired Vancouver Canucks Dave Babych and Jyrki Lumme.
During his speech, guest speaker Fai emphasized the power that lies within each of us to make a positive difference.
“There are children who mimic every move you make. It’s easy to look at those who’ve made the NHL, CFL or NFL, but we have the opportunity every day we wake up to make a difference. A child right now has no idea that in a room at the Hilton you are going to help them play a sport. You have that opportunity,” said Fai.
And not only can your contribution help get a child into the game, but as gala chair Steve Valenzuela said, “create a leader of tomorrow.”
There can be no greater gift.