HE Shoots – WE Score!

James Neal with Power Play Participants at a Calgary Flames home game.

While cities home to NHL teams benefit in more ways than simply hosting a professional hockey team, the Calgary Flames are considered one of the most community-minded and charitable teams in the National Hockey League. Every Flame player has the ability to change a life simply because he cares – and they do.

Brian Burke, former President of Hockey Operations for the Flames once said that giving back is in this team’s DNA. It is engrained in the ownership’s culture and players give back on their own accord. They love it.  So do we.

If the current players with their arduous playing season is not enough, the Calgary Police Foundation (CPF) also benefits tremendously from the Calgary Flames Foundation, and the Calgary Flames Alumni.

“All three of these Flames groups are very supportive of our critical work with youth at the CPF” says Marla Cohen, Executive Director.  “They are involved in a number of our funded programs including Power Play, the Integrated School Support Program (ISSP), and the Multi Agency School Support Team (MASST).”

During Christmas 2017, Johnny Gaudreau visited a MASST family with a young boy whose dream was to meet him and to one day play hockey. That child will never forget Johnny’s visit.

Calgary Flames player Travis Hamonic asked CPF to identify young children who have lost a parent early in their lives.  This replicates Travis’s childhood when his father died of a major heart attack when Travis was only ten years old.  Travis’s “D Partner Program” brings young kids and their family from the ISSP and MASST programs to a Flames home game for VIP treatment.  Travis sits down with each family to share stories about their lost family member(s), is passionately interested in how they are doing, and asks how they are coping with their new reality. This is the second year Travis has generously included the CPF and to Travis we say a heartfelt thanks.

Calgary Flames player James Neal contacted the CPF requesting to get involved with Power Play.  Power Play hosts an estimated 150 kids at Max Bell Arena every Wednesday to skate and play hockey with volunteer Police Officers.  James will be skating as his Flames schedule allows, will sign autographs, and meet with the families who are excited fans on the rink’s sidelines.  What’s more, James is inviting three youngsters to join a Police Officer for each of 11 home games this season also with VIP treatment. Time spent at each Flames game for three kids and an Officer is so impactful as the kids not only enjoy a thrilling NHL game, they also learn that Police Officers are their friend and a trusted adult – a critically important outcome of the Power Play program.  All thanks to James.

In 2018, the Calgary Flames Foundation, which is prominent throughout our city supporting many charities, made a significant donation of $20,000 to the CPF to be directed to the Power Play program.   “We strongly believe in the power of sport, at all ages, but especially for kids.  Paired with strong mentorship, the Flames and Flames Foundation are strong supporters of the Power Play program and the difference it is making in our community,” said Executive Director of the Calgary Flames Foundation, Candice Goudie.  “Hockey is more than just a game, and programs like this prove that.”

“This donation is a very sizeable contribution to our annual fundraising efforts for Power Play,” says Cohen.  “We simply could not do it without the Calgary Flames Foundation’s support.”

If all of this isn’t enough, in December the Calgary Flames Alumni contacted the CPF suggesting they would like to do a Calgary Flames Alumni Toy Drive to benefit some of our program families on Christmas Eve.  As the inaugural year, the Alumni suggested adopting 11 families. Calgary Flames Defenceman (2003 – 2008), Rhett Warrener asked Flames fans to bring an unwrapped gift to the December 21 game.  Before the puck dropped, the Alumni and their families were overwhelmed by the incredible generosity of fans. Turns out, the families did not only receive toys – but also gift cards for groceries, small home appliances that were missing from their cupboards, and so much more.

“We had a great time delivering the gifts and hampers, and sharing Christmas spirit with the families we visited,” said Curtis Glencross, Calgary Flames player (2008 – 2015) and recipient of the Ralph T. Scurfield Humanitarian Award in 2012 for his extensive Calgary community involvement.  “We would like to thank the many fans who made it all possible by donating so generously, and a very special thanks to the Calgary Police Service who drove us and our special deliveries to the families’ homes all day.  We are already looking forward to next year.”

On Christmas Eve morning, the Flames Alumni along with members of the Calgary Police Service loaded up the gifts that had been wrapped by the Alumni families, and delivered them to ISSP families who could really use the surprise visit.  “December 24 was not a typical day for us as Calgary Police Officers,” says Constable Shawn Morash who joined the delivery brigade with the Alumni.  “We know it is a pretty special opportunity to visit a home on a more personal level, where everyone is smiling and happy.” I

“Partnering with the CPF and CPS, Christmas was made possible for families who are doing their best just to make ends meet and would otherwise go without,” says Gillian Bowerman, Manager, Youth and Child Wellness Section. 

And what did the ISSP families think of all this?

“Everything in the hampers was great!! The kids really enjoyed it and the gift certificates were perfect for helping with the meals. The guys who dropped the hamper off, including the camera guy, CPS officers and hockey alumni, were AWESOME and came in and interacted with the kids. We honestly couldn’t have asked for anything more. It was awesome!!!

“It was really, really good. The kids enjoyed it but were a bit shy! Overall it was just incredible. This “made” Christmas, and if not for this there would have been no Christmas at all. It was greatly appreciated!”

On behalf of the CPF and the CPS which is the exclusive partner of our programs, we shout a huge “YEAH BABY” – our city’s famous hockey cheer first coined by NHL Hockey Hall of Fame Calgary Flames announcer Peter Maher.

“We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to all players, fans, and staff – we are privileged to see the difference you are making to vulnerable kids and their families every day,” says Cohen.

As we head towards the NHL playoffs, all of us at CPF are cheering on our Flames and the “C of Red” –  Go Flames Go!

Photos courtesy of Jenn Pierce and Terence Leung, Calgary Flames photographers.

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