Hockey is a subject that rarely sneaks into my social life unless general news mentions the likes of Gordie Howe, a Saskatchewan farm boy who grew up not that far from my parents farm. But recent notice of the sixth annual charity ice competition pending between RCMP and Terrace firefighters raised the topic during a coffee klatch at my kitchen table.
Over its five year existence, Guns and Hoses has raised about $40,000 for Jump Start Terrace, a charity that connects local kids with money for sports equipment and programs. According to a news report in The Terrace Standard, last year’s charity game raised $6,700. That’s an impressive amount of dollars from one evening of fun.
And fun it is, no doubt.
In this town hockey ranks at the top of favourite pastimes for many adults. I’ve heard tell that Mounties new to town make two stops upon arrival — first they report to their commanding officer at the police station, then sign up to play on a pickup hockey team.
RCMP regularly win these Guns and Hoses competitions. With more players to choose from, they can assemble a stronger team while Terrace Firefighters, restricted to their smaller union staff, have less players to choose from as they field the strongest possible team.
Noting the sizeable proceeds of a single game, one parent set down her coffee mug to suggest proposing a charity game between Thornhill and Kitimat firefighters with proceeds to support Dare to Dream band students.
The suggestion has merit.
All Dare to Dream band students attend School District 82. Both fire halls are in School District 82. Chances are both fire halls have firefighters who are also keen hockey players. If they’re short the requisite number to make up a team – however many that is – they could agree to bolster their teams with community members, drawn by lottery to give every potential player an equal opportunity to make the team.
As for good use of any monetary proceeds, I don’t think Dare to Dream has ever found itself overly flush with funds to pay for instruments or hire experienced band instructors each spring to conduct specialty classes for budding musicians.
One week of out-of-town band instructors costs Dare to Dream $20,000 including meals and hotel rooms. Even at that remuneration, guest instructors are largely donating their valuable time for the advancement of local student musicians.
As a bonus, both communities would have the joy of attending one more lively on-ice competition before ice is taken out in the spring.
The firefighters I’ve spoken with expressed interest in such a friendly competition for the betterment of student musicians.
While we’re considering encouragement of band students, I’ll mention a program launched in the spring of 2016 in New York City where anyone who owns a “gently used” musical instrument no longer being played is invited to donate it for distribution to under-resourced music and arts programs in schools. This year, more than 2,000 instruments were collected. Donations ranged from staples of orchestra and band programs, to nearly 100 accordions and everything in between: a harp, a sitar, an erhu.
A music store takes on the task of making any necessary repairs. In lieu of instruments, cash donations are appreciated.
Both my grandchildren were Dare to Dream band members. One played alto sax, the other flute and baritone sax. Both enjoyed their classes and band trips, and learned to play so they were enjoyable to listen to.
If the two fire halls skated for Dare to Dream, I wouldn’t warm a bench, but I would donate a ticket.