Monday, 9 June 2008

Charitable Donations: Team25

Hockey Blog In Canada is proud to bring you the first charity that NHL players and the NHLPA support. I'd like to bring to light the work done by a fabulous organization called "Team25: The Shjon Podein Children's Foundation". Shjon Podein was an NHL player with Edmonton, Philadelphia, Colorado, and St. Louis, and his work to help children is very impressive. Mr. Podein wasn't an NHL all-star or the leading scorer on any team, but his efforts outside the game make him one the game's greatest contributors. Let's take a look at how Team25 works, and what they are striving to do.

Mission Statement: "The mission of Team25 is to improve the quality of life and create an environment of caring and community support for children facing extraordinary difficulties in their lives. The children, their families, our board and volunteers, sponsors and celebrities all work together in our efforts to accomplish this mission. Together we are Team25."

How did it Team25 start?: I'll let Mr. Podein's words explain it all.

"A little over seven years ago, I met a brother and sister who have Ataxia Telangiectasia at a golf tournament in Rochester. Sherry and I ended up dancing the whole night with Brian & Jessica and we just fell in love with them. They are the reason we started the children's foundation. Over the years, we have donated money towards finding a cure for Ataxia Telangiectasia, a disease that is like having Cystic Fibrosis, Cerebral Palsy, immune deficiencies, Muscular Dystrophy and cancer all together. But so many people have joined Team25 that we have been able to expand our mission and now we are helping many more kids in a lot of different ways."

Ataxia Telangiectasia is a very serious disease, as Mr. Podein pointed out. Not only does it resemble most of those diseases that Mr. Podein listed, many people afflicted with this disease pass away in their teenage years or in their early 20s. Currently, there is no known cure, and there is no way to slow the progression of the disease. There are treatments to help ease the burden of Ataxia Telangiectasia, such as physical, occupational, and/or speech therapies, but it truly is a debilitating disease for those afflicted with it.

According the the Ataxia Telangiectasia information page from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, "[a]bout 20% of those with A-T develop cancer, most frequently acute lymphocytic leukemia or lymphoma. Many individuals with A-T have a weakened immune system, making them susceptible to recurrent respiratory infections. Other features of the disease may include mild diabetes mellitus, premature graying of the hair, difficulty swallowing, and delayed physical and sexual development. Children with A-T usually have normal or above normal intelligence".

Pretty serious stuff.

Shjon and Sherry, his wife, have been actively involved in Team25 since meeting Brian and Jessica Christensen, the driving forces behind the startup of Team25. However, they have a pile of help in their efforts, most notable from some very high-profile people. You can view the list here, but other NHL players include David Aebischer, Rick Berry, Fred Brathwaite, Tom Chorske, Ben Clymer, Matt Cullen, Greg deVries, Chris Drury, Pat Falloon, Peter Forsberg, Bret Hedican, Milan Hejduk, Dan Hinote, John LeClair, Joel Otto, Mark Parrish, Martin Skoula, and Stephane Yelle. And that list doesn't even cover off the A-list Hollywood stars and musicians that are also a part of the organization. They also have an impressive list of corporate sponsors that support the organization.

However, Team25 does more than just work with children that are afflicted with Ataxia Telangiectasia. Of course, they support the AT Children's Project, a major organization that is working towards a cure for Ataxia Telangiectasia. They also support Camp Jornada for children with cancer, and the Rochester Better Chance House which provides minority students a place to grow while preparing them for college. Other organizations receiving Team25 support include the King Family Foundation Child Development Center, Majestic Hills Therapeutic Ranch, Minnesota Sled Hockey, PAL (Police Athletic League), RT Autism Awareness Foundation, and Urban Peak.

Now, not everyone receives money or support from the Shjon Podein Children's Foundation (SPCF). There are guidelines that have to be followed to receive a grant. The information page is linked here if you think you may want to apply for a SPCF grant.

Sadly, though, Brian Christensen passed away earlier this year at the age of 30. Brian was a lifelong Rochester, Minnesota resident and graduate of John Marshall who loved music and hockey. As the captain of Team25, Brian was an inspiration to all who met him, and was described as "a man many call the most outstanding person they'd ever met". His sister, Jessica, lost her life to the disease eleven years ago. These two siblings will be remembered by this blogger for their truly inspiring story, and how it led to the creation of one of the best charities involving NHL players and the NHLPA. Mr. Brian Christensen, April 27, 1978 to May 22, 2008, may you rest peacefully for all eternity.

How Can I Help?: Team25 is looking for donations, both monetary and office equipment. If you don't have money you can donate, perhaps you can help by donating something you have no use for any longer. To see how you can help Team25, please click here and read through the information. There are also a number of events you can go to and help the organization that way as well, and I encourage you to contact Team25 if you would like to know more.

Team25, the NHLPA, and Shjon Podein are helping the communities they live in. It's time for us to help them as well.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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