The 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Hockey Classic between the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins at Fenway Park is just a few weeks away and yet for a group or aspiring inner city hockey players, those few weeks must feel like a lifetime.
Back in 2005, Flyers owner Ed Snider created the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation (ESYHF) as a personal commitment to teach children important life lessons. The Foundation uses the sport of ice hockey as its “hook” to bring a diverse population of children together, enabling them to enjoy a top-notch sports experience coupled with an array of educational activities and character development. The program has rapidly grown to include over 2,500 participants in just its fourth full season.
The mission of the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation is to use the sport of hockey to help young people succeed in the game of life. The program incorporates on-ice and off-ice activities, stressing citizenship, academics, and life skills. ESYHF services are targeted for boys and girls who otherwise would not have the opportunity to learn to skate or to play ice hockey. The Foundation provides equipment, ice time, and experienced coaching at no cost. The Foundation partners with the Philadelphia Department of Recreation and the School District of Philadelphia to bring its programs to 10 sites throughout the Greater Philadelphia Region to children from over 100 public schools.
On January first, members of the ESYHF will skate on a specially constructed “frozen pond” at Fenway and play hockey throughout the NBC national broadcast, as well as participate in official pre-game ceremonies on the actual ice surface. Pretty Cool Stuff, especially when you consider that this fun-filled three-day adventure will be the first-ever trip out of the city for many of these young people, most of whom come from underserved, inner-city neighborhoods.
Flyers center Jeff Carter and team captain Mike Richards personally donated Bauer hockey equipment to members of the ESYHF. Dude, these kids get to where the same skates once worn by an NHL player. Can you say Cinderella? This whole story gives me goose bumps, or maybe it’s just the cold basement I’m sitting in.
Mr. Snider, as long as I have known you and covered your teams, you have always been a class act, and the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation just proves my point. Kudos to you.