This year’s Charity Hockey Classic raised an impressive $27,486 for Canadian Tire Jumpstart. The tournament would not have been made possible however, without Albert and Erin Williams, the organizers of the event.
“This year was the biggest it’s ever been,” said Albert Williams. “We had 14 ladies teams and 10 men’s teams.”
The tournament is held at the John Rhodes, and has been going on for the past 18 years. It happens the third week of February each year.
The funds all go towards a good cause, as every player is required to raise a minimum of $80 in pledges for Jumpstart, a charity that gives kids across Canada the opportunity to afford the cost of sports.
Williams has dedicated much of his time organizing this fundraising event, but says it is all worth it.
“I have to organize teams first to see if we have enough to participate. Once I have the teams, I get other volunteers, referees, and then do the schedule. So we’re working about a month before the tournament even starts or more. I was still getting some pledges even after the tournament was over,” he said. “But once you see a number like that, it’s amazing. It is a lot of work and it’s stressful, but once you see a number that big, it makes it all worthwhile and makes me want to keep going. There were times when I wanted to pass it on to someone else, but I’ll keep doing it after seeing the number this year.”
Williams works at Gateway Casino and has been there since the facility opened 20 years ago. He says that’s where the idea for the fundraising tournament came to life.
“That’s where it all started actually, when it was OLG. It used to be just two teams: the OLG Casino playing against the lottery corporation,” he said. “We used to do just a one-game fundraiser, then next thing you know some other teams wanted to get involved and play with us. It just kept growing every year to where it is now.”
Williams credits a lot of the tournament’s success to his wife, Erin.
“She does all the financial parts of it. She’s the one that sits in that office all weekend and works with the money,” he said.
Other helpers that played a large role in the fundraiser were Cori Dyke, Heather Smith, and Victoria Olar.
According to Cam Whalen, Regional Manager of Jumpstart, this is one of the biggest Jumpstart fundraisers in Canada.
“We thank community partners such as Albert and Erin who raise about 30 per cemt of the chapter funds at the Charity Hockey Classic. 100 per cent of the funds raised through community initiatives like the CHC, donations in store at Canadian Tire, Sportchek, Marks and Canadian Tire Gas+ in SSM and any online donations from individuals with a SSM postal code stay in the SSM chapter,” Whalen said.