Skate to Great helps kids get the equipment they need

Winnipeg Sun
Kevin King
February 15, 2015

equipment

“Starting with the premise that a chance to skate is the right of every Canadian child, national charity program Skate to Great has found new feet for at least 6,000 gently used pairs of skates in its nearly three years of existence.

Starting Wednesday, you can help add to that total.

The FedEx Express location at 1950 Sargent Ave. will have a “mini-rink” to collect hockey and figure skates, along with helmets, sticks and pads, from Feb. 18-25, with Skate to Great co-founder Evan Kosiner and others on hand Wednesday from 11 a.m.-noon as part of a national drive.

FedEx helps redistribute the equipment to schools, programs and charities here and across Canada that give deserving kids and at-risk youth the chance to skate.

“I don’t think there’s anything more Canadian than this. It’s lots of fun and it brings people together,” Kosiner said.

The 27-year-old serial entrepreneur from Toronto started what’s now a registered charity with friend Kaitlyn Weaver, a Canadian ice dancer originally from Houston who won a silver medal at the 2014 worlds with partner Andrew Poje.

Kosiner, who received the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in 2013 for helping bring a number of independent programs together, said there are life lessons to be learned with skating that kids might not get anywhere else. Knowing you’re likely going to flail and fall before digging in and refusing to fail can help remove a mental barrier when facing other challenges.

“I also think there’s something magical about it,” Kosiner said. “As soon as they get on the ice, they just get to be kids. To see them having fun with smiles on their faces makes things worth it.”

Kosiner spoke over the phone from Toronto after returning home from an event in Saskatoon. He’s taken a month off to volunteer, and others are giving their time because they believe in the cause.

They don’t even have hired staff.

“It’s grassroots to the extreme,” Kosiner said.

They will use sponsorship dollars to buy new equipment on occasion, though, and as it stands there’s a shortage of CSA-approved helmets available. Those who donate are encouraged to take a picture and tweet @FedExCanada using #DonateSkates to help raise awareness and a chance to win prizes. More information is available at skatetogreat.org. You can also help spread the word on Facebook via skatetogreat. “