HBIC is proud of the work that former and current players do in terms of their charitable work. True heroes are people who have the ability to give and help those in need without asking for anything in return. There are a large number of hockey players who have started their own foundations and charitable organizations to assist people in need. Some of the greatest players to ever lace up the skates and pull on a sweater are involved in a charitable organization, and the greatest player to ever appear in an NHL game is also a major player in charitable work. HBIC is proud to profile and examine the work done by Wayne Gretzky as a part of the Wayne Gretzky Foundation.
Mission Statement: Directly from the Foundation's website, the mission statement set out by the WGF is more of a set of ideals. These ideals are actually pretty simple in their premise, but they speak volumes as to what the Wayne Greztky Foundation is all about. And perhaps more importantly, they speak volumes as to what Wayne Gretzky, the person, believe in when it comes to the sport of hockey.
"Perhaps the most famous coaching advice in all of hockey came from Walter Gretzky. He told his son not to focus on where the puck is, but where the puck is going.How Did The Wayne Gretzky Foundation Start?: Well, there isn't a lot of information on exactly how the Wayne Gretzky Foundation was started, but I do know that Mr. Gretzky is passionate about getting more kids involved in the game he loves.
"That's good advice for life, too. The puck is going to our kids.
"Hockey is our game. It promotes fitness and personal development. That's why the Wayne Gretzky Foundation is focused on putting hockey and well being within every kid's reach.
"It's not just about equipping kids for hockey. It's about equipping kids for life.
"You're guaranteed to miss one hundred percent of the shots you don't take. Every kid deserves a shot.
"Let's put every kid in the game."
"Founded in 2002, the Wayne Gretzky Foundation’s mission is to provide less fortunate youth with the opportunity to experience the sport of hockey. This goal will be accomplished through the donation of hockey equipment and ice time, as well as providing the opportunity for young people to attend professional hockey games. The Wayne Gretzky Foundation believes that hockey instills many positive life skills and contributes to the physical, emotional and social growth of young people."
In knowing this, the Wayne Gretzky Foundation is involved in a number of great initiatives and causes that go towards helping children play more hockey. Some of the initiatives are discussed briefly on the above link, but the WGF has done some incredible work. In just looking at the "Future Team Canada Program" run in association with Hockey Canada, the WGF has provided 13 minor hockey teams in 2010 with:
- Team Canada jerseys and hockey bags bearing the Wayne Gretzky Foundation logo.
- Brand new hockey sticks for each member of the team.
- $1,999 to be used for team development activities. This can be anything from booking more ice time to bringing in coaches to sending players to hockey camps to helping out other less fortunate hockey programs.
- Coaching Volunteer Recognition Package (stick, bag, Coaching Club membership, development DVDs and more). That's a pretty nice package right there.
The WGF also helped the community of Iqaluit by giving the community enough equipment to outfit the minor hockey players in their community. Iqaluit is a city of 6100 people on the south coast of Baffin Island in northern Canada, and access to acquiring hockey equipment is difficult at best. Initiatives like this to include minority groups serve to grow the game of hockey - something Mr. Gretzky is extremely passionate about. Players such as Jonathan Cheechoo and Jordin Tootoo are great role models for the aboriginal and Inuit communities, and it's encouraging to see the WGF providing opportunities to develop more excellent hockey players from these communities.
The Wayne Gretzky Foundation also partners with other charitable organizations to assist in their causes as well. The WGF has worked in conjunction with Right To Play, the CNIB, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and Ronald McDonald House of Canada. These organizations are excellent charities, and they can use any and all help they receive. In fact, Wayne Gretzky has been helping the CNIB since 1990! The launch of Wayne Gretzky’s autobiography in September 1990 "marked the first time in the world that a major publication was published simultaneously in print and braille"! A portion of the sales from Gretzky's autobiography was donated to CNIB! How cool is that?
Clearly, the Wayne Gretzky Foundation is working on a number of excellent initiatives to grow the game of hockey, and their efforts will be realized sooner than later thanks to the efforts of these initiatives.
How Can I Help?: Like the other charities that have been profiled on HBIC, there's always a need when it comes to helping these excellent organizations. The Wayne Gretzky Foundation, though, is slightly different in that they don't actually accept donations through the website.
Wayne Gretzky produces a line of wine under the No. 99 Estates Winery name. With each purchase, a portion of the sale goes back into funding the Wayne Gretzky Foundation. The best part of this option is that the wines are very reasonably priced, and they are very tasty! I highly recommend this option if you're looking for a little variety in your donation options! Personally, the 2007 Sauvignon Blanc is my favorite, but I do recommend any of the wines!
You can also do a little volunteer work if you like, or get tickets to see the Ford Wayne Gretzky Golf Classic presented by Samsung. Despite all the corporate naming rights, this event offers up some amazing golf and celebrity appearances while making a ton of money for the Wayne Gretzky Foundation. There are opportunities to volunteer at the event, and you can buy tickets to sit in the gallery and watch #99 putt for show!
If wine and golf just aren't your thing, and you're looking to head to training camp alongside some of the best hockey players to ever lace up the skates, the Wayne Gretzky Fantasy Camp might be your thing. It's pricey, but you may get a chance to skate with NHL legends like Gretzky, Luc Robitaille, Brian Leetch, Denis Savard, Larry Robinson, and Marty McSorley. The camp runs in March, so start saving your pennies!
If you have any questions or would like more information, I highly recommend contacting the Wayne Gretzky Foundation. They have a great online form where you can submit your question. They can also be reached by phone at (519) 752-7199. And there's always snail mail. You can write to the Wayne Gretzky Foundation at:
The Wayne Gretzky Foundation and Wayne Gretzky himself 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!