By Trevor Beggs for the North Delta Reporter
Sometimes the meaning of sport goes beyond having fun. Just ask Naadia Clayton.
The Delta mother of two told an impassioned story about how sports helped her kids through tough times. She delivered the speech to a crowd of 300 people during the third annual KidSport Delta 2018 “Gift of Sport” fundraising dinner at Tsawwassen Springs on April 28.
Clayton, along with her two children Ali and Josh, had their lives altered with a simple knock on the door in February 2008. A police officer surprised Clayton on her front steps and informed her that her husband, Dan, had passed away on the job. At the time, her eldest, Ali, was 11 years old, while Josh was six.
“I told [the police officer] that my children’s lives will never be the same,” Clayton said during her speech.
Clayton confided in her neighbour, who worked as a child psychologist, to see how she could help her children cope with the tragic loss.
“He told me to keep your kids’ lives stable, whatever it takes,” she said.
For Clayton, that included keeping her kids in the sports they loved. That proved difficult after she was placed in a low-income bracket following her husband’s death.
Soon after, a secretary at her children’s elementary school let her know about KidSport, a national organization formed in 1993 that helps low-income families get their kids involved in sports.
“I myself was a sporty kid and my husband was too,” Clayton told to the North Delta Reporter. “We both believed strongly in keeping our kids involved in sports. My daughter horseback rides now, and that’s what I did when I was younger as well.”
“For her to have that in her life, along with the friendships that you make and responsibilities that you learn, that’s huge for her.”
Because of KidSport, Clayton was able to keep Ali in gymnastics and Josh in T-ball. It gave them something consistent in a year of turmoil.
Helping families like the Claytons is why KidSport Delta began hosting a fundraising gala two years ago. The chapter was formed in 2010, and is focused on raising money solely for Delta kids to discover sport.
“I always just believed in helping kids be the best they can be,” KidSport Delta board chair Carlene Lewall said. “Being active is extremely important for kids nowadays. They need to be active and healthy.”
Last year, KidSport Delta helped 129 children enroll in sporting programs. They were also able to increase the yearly allowance for families from $250 to $350.
The organization has received an outpouring of support from many notable athletes in the community. Former NHLers Kick McLean and Glen Hanlon attended this year’s fundraising gala on Saturday evening. Other athletes such as former B.C. Lions Paul McCallum and Bobby Singh were also on-hand, as was current Lions head coach Wally Buono and his wife Sande.
A number of Olympians also made an appearance, including swimmer Richard Hortness. The two-time Olympian gave an impassioned speech about how KidSport helped him reach his goals. As a kid, Hortness’ family was a beneficiary of the program.
The KidSport Delta chapter is able to assist more children every year, but Lewall believes there are still families in Delta that can’t afford to put their kids in sports, and that many of these families don’t know about KidSport.
“There are probably a lot of families who don’t seek out the funding,” she said. “We really want to get the word out so that we can try to assist as many families as possible.”
Clayton says her family exemplifies why donations can positively assist others in the community.
“You don’t know why people need KidSport or what’s going on in their lives, but when you donate, you’re helping families like mine,” she said.
(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified KidSport Delta board chair Carlene Lewall as Carlene Lewis. The mistake has been fixed and we deeply regret the error.)