A Winnipeg peewee team that has been raising money in support of a fellow hockey player paralyzed in an on-ice accident is one of three teams left standing to bring in a windfall for charity as part of the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup.
The South Winnipeg Kings Peewee A2 Gold went up against teams from across the country to win the cup – awarded to the peewee team that made the biggest community impact – which includes a $100,000 prize for charity.
On Saturday night, the finalists were announced – the Kings joined by the Newfoundland and Labrador
Northeast Eagles Peewee C All-Stars, who raised over $20,000 for a program that helps children with physical, mental and cognitive disabilities, as well as the The Regina Rebels, who raised over $4,000 for a boy with special needs on the Regina SuperHEROs so he could have the equipment he needed to skate.
Parent Alistair Penner told 680 CJOB the Kings got involved in fundraising after hearing about Reese Ketler, a 19-year-old player for the St. Vital Victorias of the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League (MMJHL).
Ketler hit the boards head-first during a game Dec. 19 and suffered four fractured vertebrae, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.
“We heard about Reese’s tragic accident, and the team got together and thought, ‘What can we do?’
“It started with the team holding a good old-fashioned bottle drive, and decided to enter the event into the Good Deeds Cup, and the reception was incredible,” said Penner.
“Winnipeg is such a great city to have an event like this.”
The team initially raised $8,000 for the Reese Ketler Fund, and its efforts have earned it a spot among teams from each other province in the regional finals.
Should the Kings take home the $100,000 prize, it’ll be donating that to the Ketler Fund as well.
Penner said the team wanted to be respectful of the Ketler family’s wishes and privacy, but received their blessing to carry on with the fundraising campaign.
“We’re all very privileged to be involved in this sport,” he said.
“When we heard of Reese’s accident, we grabbed onto that cause, and thought, ‘This is ours. What can we do to help out?'”
The Good Deeds Cup competition was narrowed down to three on February 15th, and those finalists will be determined by community votes. Each team made a video explaining its cause, and every public view of those videos counts as a vote.
“This is about teaching a bunch of peewee-aged kids that all it takes is an idea, and they can do tremendously good things,” said Penner.