By Mark Dreger
Despite the windy weather, the sun was out Sunday for kids and parents to enjoy an afternoon playing road hockey with Rocky Racoon and the Kelowna Rockets.
The Rockets hosted the third annual Family Day event in front of London Drugs to raise money for the Canucks Autism Network with 100 per cent of all proceeds staying in Kelowna to help children with Autism.
“Not a lot of times do kids get to go see and play with the Kelowna Rockets,” said John Pereira, Assistant Store Manager at London Drugs, “so we have an open form where kids can just come in and play with the Rockets, meet their favourite player, get autographs, and take pictures with them.”
Over a dozen minor hockey teams participated this year against Rockets players, a huge leap from last year.
“We only had I think three minor hockey league teams last year, and this year we have sixteen minor hockey teams join up today,” Pereira said, “plus we’ll have probably six to seven hundred people throughout the day just coming and going.”
“It’s so important for these junior teams to get involved in the community; the kids look up to [the Rockets] so much,” said Chad Davidson as he watched his nine-year-old son play goaltender. “It’s different to go to a Rockets game in Prospera versus see them without their helmets, talk to them, and interact with them. It just lights the kids up for sure.”
While this was Davidson’s first time attending the event with the Rockets, this was not the first time he’s been involved in similar events.
“It’s funny, years ago I played for the Regina Pats so I used to do this as a player with minor hockey in Regina,” Davidson said, “so it’s actually kind of full circle. It’s cool to be out here now with my own kids and see the smiles on their faces.”
According to hockeydb.com, Davidson played 56 games as a goaltender for the Regina Pats from 1999 to 2002 and played alongside Calder Memorial Trophy winner and recently retired St. Louis Blues defenceman Barret Jackman.
“It’s nice to see the Rockets reach out to Kelowna minor hockey and [my son’s] team got drawn luckily,” Davidson said. “Actually both my sons’ teams got drawn. My other son is on the other side. It’s great for the kids and just helps increase their love for the game and a great thing for the Rockets to do.”
According to Pereira, last year’s event raised about $1,200 with expectations to raise more this year for the Canucks Autism Society. The event raised $1025 in 2015.
“It’s a family event; it gets people together,” Pereira said. “It also supports a great cause with the Canucks Autism Society and it’s always great to get involved in the community.”
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