DARRYL KNIGHT The Standard
Jumpstart’s Uxbridge chapter recorded another win last week, with a new benchmark contribution from the Gary Roberts and Friends Celebrity golf tournament at Wooden Sticks.
Over the past six years the tournament, which draws stars from across the NHL to Uxbridge, has raised more than $210,000 for the local Jumpstart chapter, which provides funding for youth to be involved in recreation.
“This great cause is what I think keeps bringing people back year after year,” Mr. Roberts told The Standard. “For me, it’s great to be involved in a great event like this in my hometown that has benefitted a lot of people. For kids to be better athletes, it’s important to play a lot of different sports. That’s what’s so great about the Jumpstart program, that it offers assistance for many different sports and activities.”
Uxbridge Canadian Tire owner Pat Higgins noted the positive impact that the event has had on getting young people active the community. The local chapter has supported more than 2,500 kids to be invloved in activities such as hockey, dance, soccer, karate, baseball and lacrosse, among others. Nationally, Mr. Higgins explained that later this year, it’s expected that Jumpstart will assist its one millionth Canadian child to have a chance to play.
“It's true that one in three Canadian families can't afford to get their kids involved in sport and recreation. Many kids right here in Uxbridge can't experience the benefits that being active can have in their development,” said Mr. Higgins. “Every dollar from our local events such as today's stay right here in Uxbridge to help as many kids as possible. Over the past few years we have supported over 2,500 kids allocating more than $200,000 in registration fees and program assistance.”
As the local Jumpstart program has grown under the leadership of ambassadors Amanda Ferraro and Rebecca Harman, it has expanded its focus, and in addition to helping offset fees, now hosts events aimed at getting families involved in recreation.
“Our focus here continues to be on helping those in need with their registration fees as our primary goal,” added Mr. Higgins. “However we continue to grow our overall participation by supporting all the township kids summer camps this year as well as free family swims, family bowling nights, free skating and an after-school program complete with a nutritional snack for the kids”.
Ms. Harman explained to The Standard that, “the tournament is the cornerstone of Jumpstart in Uxbridge. It is literally what enables us to put our programs together and it would be a tremendous struggle every year without the support of Gary Roberts and his team.”
As Ms. Harman explained, the ability of the program to reach beyond individual registration fees and into also providing more family-oriented activities has created a ripple effect of activity in the community.
“A healthy community is a happy community,” added Ms. Harman. “It’s not just about the funding or the money, it’s what it does emotionally when you being active and involved in the community.”
As well, Mr. Higgins took the occasion to announce that Jumpstart has partnered with Mr. Roberts to offer another new program in Uxbridge this fall.
“I am very excited to announce that we are in the planning stages of our first Jumpstart games. We are planning a hockey skills training day in November complete with both on ice and dry land training. Gary Roberts will be assisting us with the development of this program and we are forecasting 300 to 400 kids to register,” explained Mr. Higgins.
As always, the tournament brought several NHL stars to the community for the event, including Steven Stamkos, James Neal, Teddy Purcell, Mark Scheifele, Derek Roy, Josh Anderson, Chris Tierney, Cameron Gaunce, Chris Tanev, Glenn Healy, Anthony Peluso and Devin Shore. Stamkos and Neal have been a supporters of the tournament since it began in 2010.
Neal, a Whitby native and Nashville Predators forward noted that he is pleased to be able to offer his support to the cause every year.
“It’s close to home, and getting kids involved in sports is something really special when you are able to see the positive experiences they’re able to have,” Neal told The Standard. “I can’t say enough about how great the Jumpstart program is for giving kids that chance to be involved and active.”
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