DMZ-based Company Brings Skating to Children in Need

An expected 200 young children will be skating to greatness on Dec. 8.

This Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., Skate to Great is helping organize the Big Brothers & Big Sisters (BBBS) of Toronto’s JAM Direct Holiday Skate at the Mattamy Athletic Centre. Skate to Great is a non-profit organization that provides marginalized children and youth with new and used donated skates and equipment. The private winter party is one way Skate to Great has been able to connect underprivileged children with quality ice time. Radio and television arts graduate Evan Kosiner co-founded the non-profit as a way to provide every child, regardless of their circumstances, the opportunity to skate.

Saturday’s event includes a lunch as well as a performance by Canadian figure skaters Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, who will also help children skate. BBBS children range from as young as three-years-old to 18. Skate to Great has collected skates from holding skate drives at local high schools, accepting donations from the Figure Skating Boutique, and planting drop-off boxes at 300 locations across the country.

While Skate to Great hasn’t raised any money, Kosiner says the skates have poured in and they’ve been able to support other non-profits such as Courage Canada, HEROS Hockey and BBBS.

“With our supporters and charitable recipients it helps skate donors know their skates are going to reputable organizations and companies supporting us in various ways,” Kosiner said.

Almost 40 Ryerson students and alumni intern for Skate to Great and its success is completely volunteer-driven. Additional support from FedEx Express Canada, StorageMart and Lowe’s Home Improvement stores has enabled Skate to Great to expand its cause. FedEx provides logistical and shipping services and has made three separate $5,000 skate and helmet donations to Skate’s other chosen charities. StorageMart stores and receives skates at all their locations and Lowe’s has helped build mini-rinks for Skate’s events. Working out of the Digital Media Zone, Ryerson’s multidisciplinary workspace for research and innovation, also gives Kosiner a main office to connect with his team and industry people.

Kosiner co-founded the organization with Kaitlyn Weaver, fourth-ranked skater in the world. After meeting through mutual friends, Kosiner and Weaver had a discussion about how skating is ingrained in Canadian culture and as such, every child should have an opportunity to skate. From there they started working together to make the dream a reality. Skate to Great was registered as a non-profit in March 2012 and caught the attention of Prime Minister Stephen Harper who wrote a letter to the staff commending them on their involvement, leadership and community spirit.

Specific skate sizes are still needed for this Saturday. Visit www.facebook.com/skatetogreat to find out more.