SUMMERSIDE – There will be a bit of added anticipation for the first goal from the Summerside Western Capitals in Sunday’s MHL (Maritime Junior Hockey League) game against the Bridgewater Lumberjacks here at Eastlink Arena.
Summerside Western Capitals
For a second consecutive year, the Caps will be holding their Teddy Bear Toss in support of the Chad Gallant Teddy Bear Memorial Drive. Fans are asked to take teddy bears to the game, or purchase one on site from the Capitals’ organization. Then when the Caps score their first goal, toss them on the ice.
Bruce and Edna Gallant of O’Leary started the teddy bear drive in 2007 in memory of their son, Chad. Since its inception, the memorial drive has grown by leaps and bounds to the point where Scotiabanks on P.E.I. have joined the effort to accept donations.
That, along with the partnership with the Western Capitals’ organization, has resulted in donations greatly increasing in recent years.
The bears provide comfort to children who find themselves in scary or stressful situations, with the stuffed toys distributed through various P.E.I. emergency responders, including Island EMS and the RCMP.
Overwhelmed by support
Capitals general manager Pat McIver was overwhelmed by the support fans gave the drive last season.
“I knew we would get some teddy bears thrown out onto the ice, but you never really know how well it will be supported,” said McIver. “In true Prince County fashion, our great fans went above and beyond, and littered the ice with enough stuffed bears to fill the van.”
The Gallants put their own personalized touch on each bear by attaching a memorial tag, which includes a picture of Chad.
“As a first-year ownership group, everything we do this year is new to us, but this was one event that we certainly had on our radar and that the group was excited to execute. We hope to grow this event from year to year, because we believe it not only to be a great initiative from the Gallants, but truly a unique way that hockey can help the community, especially young, vulnerable children.” Capitals president David Groom
McIver is impressed with the courage and resolve of the Gallants.
“For them to turn a tragedy like this into something so positive is truly remarkable,” said McIver. “What they do touches so many people who are faced with extreme situations.”
Chad lost his life in 2006 when he and his common-law partner were involved in a collision with an impaired driver en route to a Western Capitals’ game.
For the Gallants, the collection and distribution of the stuffed toys keeps their son’s memory and his love of children alive while, at the same time, helping others.
Looking to grow event
Caps president Dave Groom is looking to grow this event in the future.
“As a first-year ownership group, everything we do this year is new to us, but this was one event that we certainly had on our radar and that the group was excited to execute,” said Groom. “We hope to grow this event from year to year, because we believe it not only to be a great initiative from the Gallants, but truly a unique way that hockey can help the community, especially young, vulnerable children.”
Groom added the Caps have stepped it up a notch this year as customized Western Capitals teddy bears will be for sale at the arena for the toss.
Game time Sunday is 2 p.m.