Tourney pays for young skaters

One single day paved the way for a handful of children to lace up their skates this year in Pelham.

The Diesel Classic, hosted by  Pelham Minor Hockey Association (PMHA) and the Winnicki family, has harvested the fruits of their labour.

Players who wouldn’t be playing hockey this season have the opportunity, thanks to the financial aid raised during the one-day tournament last March.

“It’s very important that we are getting these donations,” Byron Sinclair, president of the PMHA said. “With the economy you have down here, some people just need that extra few dollars to get their child on the ice.”

With more families living on a single income, facing job losses and hockey fee increases, the financial boost makes a large impact.

The fee for a single season can range between $800 and $1,000 before adding the cost of equipment.

Those families with multiple children are often left deciding which one will play – something Sinclair believes will change with their new approach to providing assistance.

The PMHA will look to develop a system of screening potential families to determine how much each will receive.

Sinclair says there’s no need to worry about jumping through hoops either. The entire process will operate much like any other charitable organization, keeping privacy a top priority.

“We just want to cover all the bases before and help out as many kids as possible with the donations. We also don’t mention names in anything. We are completely confidential, so there are no worries for those nervous about names getting out.”

Jerry Winnicki, who started the tournament in honour of his late son Andrew, hopes people will take advantage of the opportunity.

He created the tournament not only to honour his son, but to allow more children the chance to play the sport his son loved.

“If you know of a family who may be too shy to ask for financial help, just give us a call,” Winnicki said. “This is why the event happened. So that everyone who wants to play hockey is on the ice this season.”

With over $10,000 raised in the first year, he hopes to continue providing assistance with the annual tournament.

Winnicki admits he was surprised at the response here and in Ottawa, where his son lived for several years, but he says it shows the impact Andrew had on others.

A small percentage of money raised each year will be used in the same capacity for the Ottawa based Osgoode Rideau Minor Hockey Association, where Andrew was honoured with a dedication of a dressing room in his name this past summer.

“The support has been overwhelming. We couldn’t have gotten where we are not without the support of the Town of Pelham, Pelham Referees Association, Clark Agri Service, Mossimo’s Pizza, Ron Kore from Sobeys and Walker’s Industries for being sponsors for the tournament.”

Plans are underway for the next tournament in March. Winnicki says the tournament will be two days this year with already a slew of great prizes lining up.

“It’s going to be bigger and better next year.”

Those still searching for financial aid can still apply for this upcoming hockey season by contacting Sinclair at 905-892-1754 or by visiting www.pelhamminorhockey.com. You can also reach out to Winnicki at 905-736-1426.

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