In 1958, Willie O'Ree broke the color barrier in the NHL when he stepped on the ice as a member of the Boston Bruins. In 1998, O'Ree took on the role of Director of Cause Marketing and Ambassador for the league's "Hockey is for Everyone" initiative focused on increasing diversity in the sport.
And last Friday, in partnership with the Columbus Ice Hockey Club (CIHC), O'Ree was in Columbus, visiting with local high school children and spreading the word about the value of hard work, the game of hockey and the opportunity for everyone to play.
"Since the CIHC started we've had about 16,000 kids participate," John Haferman, CIHC Director, told BlueJackets.com. "I would have to give Mr. O'Ree credit for over half the kids coming our way saying 'hey, we saw this, how do we get involved?' He's the only reason our program is still going, I think."