NHL Alumni Game
By: Savanah Tillberg
On Tuesday, January 31st 2017, local law enforcement suited up and took to the ice in an epic hockey game against various NHL legends. The game was apart of the NHL alumni tour, a series of games that take place all across Canada and act as a fundraiser for Special Olympics Ontario.
This year’s alumni team had a particularly impressive line up with former NHL starts including Tiger Williams, Rick Vaive, Al Lafrate, Mike Krushelnyshi, Denny Lambert, and more. None other than Walter Gretzky, the first father of hockey, led Thunder Bay’s NHL Alumni team as coach.
In an interview with The Argus, Special Olympics athlete Corey Munshaw said that while he was disappointed Patrick Sharp was missing from the roster, he was very excited to attend the game because it supports an organization he loves very much.
Special Olympics was established in 1968 following the research of Dr. Frank Hayden, who set out to disprove the notion that children with intellectual disabilities were less capable of being physically fit. Dr. Hayden’s research demonstrated that low levels of fitness were a result of an underactive lifestyle, generally caused by exclusion from regular activities due to their disability.
The Special Olympics mission statement is “To provide year-round sports training and athletic competition for individuals with intellectual disabilities.” Munshaw, now 30, has been involved with Special O’ since he was in high school, when he started on the track and field team. In addition to track, he now participates in floor hockey, basketball, snowshoeing and 10-pin bowling. Munshaw said that Special O’ is important to him because “it is a place where we can compete and play sports together, and we have a nice group of friends to be with.”
Special Olympics supports thousands of athletes across Ontario and promotes fitness, developing new skills, meeting new friends and “experiencing joy.” Since its establishment in the late 60s, Special O’ has grown and is now considered “the world’s largest movement dedicated to promoting respect, acceptance, inclusion, and human dignity through sport.”
Supporting Special O’ in this fundraising event is the NHL Alumni Association. Founded in 1999, the NHL Alumni Association’s mission is to harness “the power of former professional hockey players to support the development of healthy communities across North America.” The organization annually raises $7 million for various charitable programs.
This isn’t the first time our local law enforcement has gotten involved with Special Olympics. The Thunder Bay Police Service holds fundraisers throughout the year in support of Special O’. The NHL Alumni event, however, attracted a great crowd. Some members of the Law Enforcement All-Stars Team were alumni from the Thunder Bay Flyers and some even played in the American Hockey League. The event was a huge success and the stands were full of locals eager to see how our law enforcement compared to NHL legends on the ice.
The event was fun for all who attended and the great amount of effort put forth by organizers, volunteers, and players was certainly worthwhile. Our city was very lucky to have the opportunity to facilitate such a prestigious fundraiser and support an organization that leads our community in fostering diversity and acceptance.