The sounds of scraping skate blades and sticks smacking the ice fill the arena as the Atom C5 Blades minor league hockey team take on their opponents. Cheers ring out from the fans in the stands when the Blades score a goal. Added to this is an unexpected noise: the sound of coins rattling around a coffee can. For the players on the Blades hockey team, it’s a sound that motivates them to score again and again because they know that sound will make a difference to families in BC.
The team came up with a unique fundraiser for Matthew’s House, a respite home for families with children who live with complex care needs. Each time the team scores a goal, a Matthew’s House bucket gets passed around the arena with the encouragement for folks to drop a donation into it. Given the caliber of the team, this has been a fairly lucrative fundraiser.
“We score a lot – at least 5 or 6 goals a game,” one team member proudly said.
Manager Lily Unger says that just like most hockey teams, there’s always a need to raise money for tournaments, jerseys or equipment. But she felt it would be good for the team to have another fundraising focus.
“We’re always on the receiving end so we wanted to find a way to give back to the community,” she says.
Matthew’s House was a natural choice for the Blades as the team has a unique connection to the home. Team member, Hudsen Froese, is the younger brother to Matthew, for whom the house is named. Lily is also a family friend.
Aushin Gill, Cody Pope and Keira Thomspon are all members of the Blades and have played hockey for years. They really enjoy the team, each one saying how sportsmanlike their team members are and how much fun it is to play together. The fundraiser is a great motivator.
“Knowing that the bucket will get passed around gets me pumped to score more,” says Cody, who plays both defense and centre.
Keira, who plays left wing and defense, agrees. “It makes me want to play harder, knowing that we’re raising money for Matthew’s House.”
The teammates say that from their vantage point on the ice, they can see – and hear – the bucket going around the arena.
“The can goes ‘shake, shake, shake’ and we can hear it from the ice,” says centre, Aushin. “It makes me feel really good knowing I am helping kids.”
The Blades visited Matthew’s House recently to tour the home and learn more about how this resource supports families. They enjoyed seeing the home’s special features like the activity room and the playground. Several of the kids had heard about Matthew’s House before but didn’t know that Hudsen was a brother to Matthew. Knowing this makes their fundraising effort even more special. For Lily, it’s as much about raising funds as it is about raising awareness and bringing the community together.
“The kids have hearts on their helmets (echoing the Matthew’s House logo) and we make an announcement about the fundraiser before the game,” she says. “It’s another way to get the conversation going.”
The Atom C5 Blades played their last regular season game on March 1st and are headed for the playoffs. The team exceeded their goal of $1000 and are thrilled with the success of their fundraiser.
“This has been a wonderful experience for our team,” Lily said.