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CityTV’s event coverage of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Toronto’s Holiday Party where Skate To Great donated skates for over 200 kids to participate. Thanks to the assistance of FedEx Express Canada kids received new helmets to keep as well.
Information regarding the accuracy of story: CityTV CityNews states that the NHL, Skate Canada and Hockey Canada donated skates. This information is incorrect and Skate To Great is unaware how CityTV came to that conclusion.
Last March I had the privilege of co-founding Skate To Great out of a conversation I had with a friend, Kaitlyn Weaver, about how every kid should have the opportunity to skate in Canada. I’ve learnt a lot along the way. The idea, bring industry bodies in hockey and skating together with children’s charities and corporate partners so regardless of economic or physical circumstances, any kid who wants the opportunity to skate, gets it. The primary initiative: “To collect the public’s used skates and distribute them to kids that need them.”
Iinitially approached Siskinds Law who was eager to jump aboard (partially due to various hockey and figure skating ties) to handle our legal work pro bono. As our lawyer Stacey Bothwell informed me, there are a number of differences between a company, not-for-profit and a charity in Canada. It gets technical. A not-for-profit organization has incorporation document, in Ontario it can be stamped as a charity. When people ask are you a registered charity, you are, but usually this isn’t what they mean. You then have to go to the CRA and request a charitable number to issue charitable receipts. This process takes six months to two years on average. It’s also my understanding the more reputable names you have associated with your organization, the better.
Then we put together a steering committee. The steering committee was created not to do the day-to-day operations, rather to bring their wisdom to the table. Sometimes their wisdom and your wisdom will conflict. From the first meeting I wanted FedEx Express Canada aboard to assist with shipping skates to charities that need them and knew we needed the largest storage company in Canada, StorageMart, aboard to store the skates and Lowe Home Improvement Warehouse to fill in the odds and ends, the storage bins, locks for lockers and help build the mini-rinks we wanted to use for events. Plus they could all assist with collecting skates.
The steering committee thought this would be great for year three and didn’t see it being possible to get their assistance as quickly as two weeks later. Well, in short they loved the concept and have provided great assistance ever since. Most recently Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone provided us with offices, which allow us to be accessible, creating internship opportunities for students on campus. We couldn’t have asked for better supporter than the companies that have supported us to make our operation run. It isn’t logistically an easy task having hundreds of drop-off locations across the country run solely by volunteers when you’ve been operating for less than a year. Do things that scare you.
Don’t let others ideas slow you down. We booked an event towards the end of last skating season at Toronto City Hall. With a little under two weeks to the city closing the ice rink at City Hall I called the events department. I asked if I could book an event there for March 4. Their response: “2014 hun or 2015?” Without missing a beat I responded, “no, like in two weeks from now.” “That’s not possible, the City Councillors are out of session and we need a $2-million dollar insurance policy with the City of Toronto listed.” I knew I had my work cut out.
Ask everyone. I begged, borrowed and pleaded with people to assist. Sure enough the $2-million dollar insurance coverage policy was donated by K&K Insurance and it turns out if they believe enough in your cause at City Hall, they make things happen. Not to mention Margaret and everyone at City Hall was a pleasure to work with. Over 450 skates were collected the week following and we were able to donate them to Courage Canada who had kids who were blind and visually impaired on the ice using them three days later. The excess were donated to HEROS Hockey for a youth program in the Jane and Finch community of Toronto.
We recently provided hundreds of skates to kids from Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Toronto last weekend and with a generous donation from FedEx Express Canada new helmets for all the kids to take home too.Connect with other organizations. I’ve already mentioned some of the charities we’ve assisted and the corporate partners that took a risk on us and provided their goods and services to benefit our cause. The remaining element are the industry bodies.
Skate Canada has done everything from invite us to have booths at some of their regional galas, to sanctioning events and introducing us to figure skaters like Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier who have donated their time at events and sorting skates on multiple occasions. Hockey Canada has provided us with valuable resources including assisting us with setting up a drop off location in a high profile location and spreading the word when we were short particular skate sizes for an event. The NHL has provided us with connections and auction items and the NHLPA has made requests of players to attend an event. If everyone pitches in amazing things can happen.
In June we received a letter from Prime Minister Harper commending us on what we were doing and prior to that MP John Carmichael attended our event and showed his support. Receiving support from politicians can be beneficial in many ways. Reach out to your local politicians and invite them to support your cause. Bring people together, be inclusive and always ask things of people.
You might not have skates, might not have helmets, might not have sticks to donate. But you do have social media, Facebook and Twitter. It’s as simple as my inviting that you share a link to our site with your friends, who tells other friends about what we’re up to and donating skates. You become the reason we get skates for kids even though you don’t have any yourself. All of our drop off locations (hundreds across Canada) and more information is available on www.skatetogreat.org I wish you the best of luck in your endeavours.
Even in the sweltering Toronto summer heat, Evan Kosiner is still thinking about ice-skating.
The 25-year-old self-described “serial entrepreneur” has been giving back in a big way. His non-profit organization, Skate to Great, aims at giving a pair of skates to every child in Canada who wants them, regardless of their ability or economic barriers.
“[Skate to Great is] a great way of giving back and the most rewarding part about the charity is being able to see the look on the kids’ faces when they’re skating for the first time,” Kosiner said.
The idea for the charity came when Kosiner had a conversation with a friend who figure skates competitively. Six months after that conversation and many hours of networking, meetings, and negotiations later, Skate to Great launched in March 2012 at Toronto City Hall. That first event collected hundreds of pairs of skates, which were later provided to skating programs.
The charity now has sustainable partnerships with large multinational corporations, and donates the skates to programs run by Big Brothers Big Sisters Canada, Courage Canada, and HEROs Hockey. About 2,500 pairs of skates have been collected and distributed to date.
Kosiner has been getting noticed for his entrepreneurial skills and maturity since even before he founded his first company at age 13.
Once dubbed the “Doogie Howser of the entertainment industry,” Kosiner has since expanded his business interests from media to include music, business cards and corporate consulting, with even more diverse projects currently in development.
Kosiner said his serial entrepreneurship is like scaling a mountain.
“You climb a mountain to go to the top, but you don’t spend the time at the top, you then work your way back down. So that’s kind of what it’s like as an entrepreneur. You’re really doing it for the journey on the way up, not really to be at the top and hang out there for the rest of your life.”
Kosiner said he knows that having a solid team of supporters is the best way to achieve ambitious goals.
Figure skater Piper Gilles is one of those teammates. American-born Gilles and her Canadian skating partner Paul Poirier volunteer their time at Skate to Great events.
“Paul and I really liked what [Kosiner’s] charity was doing for the skating community and for all the kids that were getting skates,” she said about her decision to stay involved with Skate to Great long-term.
One year after the debut of Skate to Great, Kosiner was recognized for his work and received the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in March.
“That’s just Evan. He has a good heart,” said his mother, Nancy Kosiner. “Evan is the footwork and the brains and the energy behind Skate to Great. What it’s become grew out of Evan’s commitment and his energy and excitement about it.
“When he’s passionate about something, he puts his all into it, and he’s passionate about Skate to Great,” she added.
Kosiner credits much of his success to those who have taken risks on him, both in his businesses and with the charity.
“For me, it’s all about who takes a risk on you; who takes a chance on you when it’s definitely questionable if the results are going to be great or not, and having those results pan out,” he said.
Kosiner credits the founder of the Four Seasons Hotels, Isadore Sharp, as one person who took a major chance on him this year by being the first guest on his Rogers TV show, Toronto Speaks: Entrepreneurship.
Many others, however, say they see Kosiner as the one who is paying his momentum forward and taking risks, creating a positive impact on countless kids’ lives with the creation of Skate to Great.
“Knowing that no matter if it’s a physical disability, a mental disability, [or if] they come from a rough background, that they are kids on the ice and they’re giving high-fives and having a great time when they’re on there,” he said. “So that’s what makes it all worthwhile.”
See more at: http://www.cjnews.com/heebonics/%E2%80%9Cserial-entrepreneur%E2%80%9D-takes-his-talent-skating-rinks-across-canada#sthash.Ja9TAOkd.dpuf
Few things are more quintessentially Canadian than watching a child lace up a pair of skates and take that first wobbly stride on the ice. It’s a right of passage for most children, but many have to overcome more than balance and gravity before it can happen.
Forest Hill’s Evan Kosiner is convinced enough old pairs of skates and used helmets are sitting in Canadian garages to make taking to the ice a reality for Canada’s underprivileged youth. His charity, Skate to Great, redistributes donated equipment to the kids that need it the most. An entrepreneur by trade, Kosiner brought together a network of corporate partners and handed roughly 3,500 pairs of skates in the charity’s first year.
“We’re working to create a team between the best companies, charities and sports organizations,” says Kosiner. Skate to Great accepts equipment at over 50 StorageMart locations from Vancouver to Quebec City. FedEx handles the shipping, Lowe’s provides bins, and 1-800-GOT-JUNK deals with the garbage. Partners such as Big Brother Big Sisters of Canada and Courage Canada distribute the donations.
“When we were working with Courage Canada, we had a group of visually impaired kids on the ice at Maple Leaf Gardens. Ryerson University’s figure skating and hockey teams came out to help them around the ice,” Kosiner says. The funding Skate to Great receives from its corporate partners mostly goes to skate sharpening and buying new laces. Kosiner hopes to continue to grow the project to reach even more kids.
“To me, nothing says growing up Canadian more than skating.”
The joy of lacing on a pair of skates and getting out onto the ice is an experience Skate To Great wants every kid in Canada to have, regardless of financial circumstance. In just its second year, the Toronto-based charity has collected more than 6,500 donated pairs of gently used hockey and figure skates. The skates are sorted and refurbished – sharpened and given new laces, if necessary – by volunteers, then distributed to schools and organizations across the country. “Skating should be a rite of passage for kids, not a priviledge,” says charity cofounder Evan Kosiner. Skates, hockey gear and helmets manufactured in the last three years can be dropped off at StorageMart locations across the country. For more information, visit skatetogreat.org -RS