SURREY – Believe it or not, but the Subban brothers might not have been drafted into the National Hockey League if it hadn’t been for the community spirit in the Greater Toronto Area.
Growing up in Rexdale, they had to use second-hand equipment and it was difficult for Karl and Maria Subban to finance their three sons’ – P.K., Malcolm and Jordan – hockey dreams.
Now, they are trying to change that by supporting the Hyundai Hockey Helpers campaign alongside KidSport.
The program is to raise funds for children who come from low-income families to help cover registration costs of playing organized hockey.
Karl, who moved to Sudbury, Ontario from Jamaica when he was 11 years old, couldn’t afford to play organized hockey and his first pair of skates came from the Salvation Army.
Jordan, who was chosen by the Vancouver Canucks in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, said his parents made a lot of sacrifices to get all three brothers on the ice.
"It was always a struggle for us to find new equipment and it’s obviously very expensive," Jordan said in an interview with the Now.
The Subban family did all they could to raise money for hockey costs, including selling chocolates at hockey games.
Jordan, the youngest of the three, like his brothers is playing for the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League.
"It wasn’t always the new stuff, but whenever you get something, whether it’s a new pair of skates or a stick, you’re very grateful," he added.
Karl was a principal of an elementary school and Maria was an accountant, but P.K. said that money was tough at times.
"Coming from a large family that struggled financially, I’m committed to helping every kid get in the game. I think it’s extremely important," P.K. said in a release. "My parents worked hard, but sometimes that just wasn’t enough.
"For the last two years, this program has helped nearly 5,000 kids play hockey which is truly amazing. These kids might not have been able to get in the game. This year I’m spreading the word to help at least 2,000 more kids," the Norris Trophy winner added.
Ronnie Paterson, president of the Surrey-White Rock KidSport chapter, said the program has allowed 45 Surrey and White Rock children to play organized hockey since it began.
He mentioned the effect was "remarkable" to families who couldn’t normally afford to
put their children into organized sports.
"It’s very moving and very touching to see the reaction and they’re extremely grateful. That’s why it’s such a wonderful thing that’s in our community," he said. "The spirit of the community is paramount."
Paterson went on to say that sports are important because they teach lessons to children as they are growing and give them structure.
"It’s all the commitment and the discipline around sports that allows you to shape somebody’s behaviour, principles and values. The characteristics sports provide people … enables kids to develop a strong foundation as they develop," said Paterson.
Jeff Rae, the general manager of Jim Pattison Hyundai Surrey, has worked with
KidSport and similar charities and believes that sports help any child.
"There are a lot of things kids learn from organized sports," he said. "I know what it’s like to see the smiles on their faces and to see kids laughing on the field.
"It’s fantastic. Hockey is a very expensive sport to play," added Rae.
The car dealerships have their own fundraising efforts for customers after they purchase a vehicle.
This is the third year of the Hyundai Hockey Helpers campaign. All of the money raised will go towards registration for the following season.
For more information, visit Kidsportcanada.ca or Hyundaihockey.ca.