Chilliwack mom puts a positive spin on son’s sports dream
Next Saturday when Chilliwack mother Michelle Hobek gets on an exercise bike in the GoodLife fitness centre in Abbotsford, she will be spinning for a cause that is close to her heart.
Her son Zachary’s memorial fund donated to the GoodLife Kids Foundation last year, and now Hobek and her friends are participating in the health centre’s Spin4Kids Plus event to raise funds that will benefit kids in the area.
“It’s not just about donating it’s about being active and raising funds for kids,” Hobek said. “It’s bringing awareness to the communities that there are grants out there for kids that they can apply for and getting the community involved in it.”
Shortly after Hobek and her husband Jack lost their 17-year-old son Zachary in August of 2008, friends started the memorial fund to enable kids with limited financial resources to take part in organized sports.
The fund started as a golf tournament from which an accumulated $3,000 was donated to Spin4Kids last year.
Young Zachary was a talented hockey player, who had picked up lacrosse quickly enough to become team MVP in the first year he played, just before he was killed.
Because of their son's involvement in hockey, the Hobek family knows well the costs associated with youth sports.
And that’s why Hobek is adamant about raising awareness of GoodLife's Spin4Kids.
This weekend's event is one of many that groups in the Fraser Valley hold to provide help for local kids who don’t have the means to play sports.
Those services are available in Chilliwack with providers who insist the funds stay local.
“Our goal is to remove the financial barriers so we try to make it as easy as possible for applicants and the families,” said Katie McCallum, co-ordinator of KidSport BC.
It’s becoming more common for organizations who provide funding for vulnerable populations to eliminate those hurdles by waiving the need to see financial documentation, which can discourage applicants.
KidSport simply needs someone close to the family to sign on their behalf, and use that as their “financial verification reference.”
Last year in Chilliwack the charitable arm of Sports BC approved 50 applicants for $12,671 of funding.
Recipients can use up to a maximum of $300 to put toward registration fees for a season of sport in any club that’s a member of one of the 60 provincial sport organizations in Sports BC.
And there are also local corporate sponsors who are active in funding sports for children.
“If children are into a sport or doing something that they enjoy, it’s so much better for their health,” Marcel Nadeau, owner of Chilliwack’s Canadian Tire said. “When you hear stats that are saying my children’s generation is the first generation that will not live longer than mine, that is not a good thing.”
With the increasing costs of organized kids sports, all things are not equal when it comes to youth activities.
In a partnership with the YMCA (which has its own similar Strong Kids campaign), Nadeau and his organization have helped over 3,500 kids between the ages of four and 18 through the Jumpstart program.
Services for sport-seeking kids in Chilliwack abound, so it’s a matter of raising the awareness Hobek talked about and getting the families in need to connect with them.
Hobek’s pedalling next weekend will be fuelled by the idea of keeping Zachary’s memory alive.
“It’s building children’s dreams,” she said. “Zachary’s dream [to be a hockey player] died with him.”
All Zachary wanted to do was play sports, said Hobek.
Her son’s spirit remains alive in the community when individuals and organizations like GoodLife help put dreams within reach of all children.
>The annual eight-hour Spin4Kids Plus takes place Saturday, March 7 at the Abbotsford Clearbrook GoodLife fitness centre. Visit www.spin4kids.com for more information.