One of the things I love most about hockey is that there is always a lot of giving back. Giving back to our communities, random acts of kindness, food banks, charities, whatever, we always give back. Hockey players (and their families) have the biggest hearts.
Even without regular hockey this past year, we are lucky, because we have people in our lives. But, as I learned through a hockey mom, many do not.
I met Lisette Kingo when my son was playing for the Elite Beasts at the Chowder Cup in Boston. We hit it off immediately, and I learned about her passion for The Angel Project, a charity she founded in 2008 after a visit to the complex care unit at Parkwood Hospital in Ontario.
I learned that many patients spend decades alone in complex care units in hospitals and will never go home again. Lisette founded The Angel Project because she wasn’t ok with that, and she wanted to make a difference. She used hockey as a means to bring people together around the cause, and it has made a difference in a lot of lives.
Since that time, she and many other hockey friends and families, including NHL great Doug Gilmour and his wife Sonya, and four time Olympian and triple gold medalist Becky Keller, who are all directors, donate time to The Angel Project.
And, very hockey related, there are a number of youth ambassadors who are very devoted to giving back. For 8 years previous to Covid-19, the charity hosted the Angel Tournament – Skate for Someone Who Can’t. While the tournament is the largest fundraiser, the focus is also on raising compassionate young humans in our hockey players. They meet patients who can no longer skate and learn to appreciate the value of getting on the ice.
From there, many youth have done their own fundraisers, including the goalie giveaway (stay tuned for more on this!)
The Angel Project helps those with no voice. Those left alone and abandoned in hospitals. You probably didn’t even know this was a thing, but it is.
Here is just one example of something they have done:
Just over a year ago, a patient went home for the first time after many years alone in the hospital. No visitors, no celebrations. Nothing.
When this many was 19 he fell of a balcony. His family wrote him off and he was alone and paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a hospital bed. He was too proud and angry at himself to see anyone and he ended up completely alone.
The department looking after him knew about The Angel Project and contacted Lisette to let her know he had been alone for years. But he was still too proud to accept hel
p so another year went by with no birthday or Christmas Cards or Gifts or visits. He was so depressed that at the time he even rejected a gift bag of hygiene items.
When he needed a new wheelchair, while the government was able to pay for 75% of the cost, but there was no funding for the patient portion. The patient had no money to make it happen. The hospital staff knew that if they did not find a wheel chair it was expected they would need to amputate his legs due to lack of use, and there was no where else to turn.
The hospital staff again turned to the Angel Project and they anonymously paid for the wheelchair.
Then, everything changed. Doug Gilmour took a copy of his book and went to talk to the patient. The patient loosened up enough that they learned he wanted a computer.
So again The Angel Project secretly got him a computer, they didn’t know that just as secretly the patient used his laptop to get his GED online.
Finally, he met with The Angel Project and they learned that he had enrolled in a course at Fanshawe college. His goal? To be able to help others like him.
And one year ago, the Angel Project was able to move him into his first independent living situation even during Covid-19, and they were able to get donated furniture and items for him.
Now, he lives in his own apartment and is studying to become a support worker to help those who feel like he did, abandoned.
This is the work of The Angel Project.
I’m proud to be an ambassador, and you’ll be hearing lots more from me about all the things they do.
You should take the time to learn more about The Angel Project and the most vulnerable in your communities.