Henrik and Johanna Sedin and their little ones graced the cover of the Vancouver Sun, while Orland Kurtenbach graced the corner of W Georgia and Howe -- three generations of Canucks doing their part to support Raise-a-Reader Day in Vancouver.
Estimates suggest that 40 percent of adult Canadians experience difficulty with literacy and 20 percent of grade 4 children cannot read at grade level. On the morning of September 29th, over 200 volunteers took the streets of downtown Vancouver to fight for literacy in B.C. Among the early risers were Canucks alumni Orland Kurtenbach, Darcy Rota, Dennis Kearns and John Grisdale. Not to be outdone by their younger counterparts Alex Burrows, Rick Rypien, and Sami Salo, these Canucks-of-yesteryear used their star power to hawk newspapers in exchange for donations to Raise-a-Reader.
Raise-a-Reader was introduced in 1997 by the Vancouver Sun and the annual event has expanded nationally to 27 Canadian cities. Over $5.25 million has been donated to literacy initiatives throughout B.C. since its inception, with 100% of money raised given back to the community. The Canucks Family Education Centre (CFEC) has been one of the major beneficiaries of Raise-a-Reader since it opened in 2002. Over the past 8 years, $550,000 has been donated to CFEC programs supporting family literacy in Vancouver’s east-side.
Premiere Gordon Campbell got the ball rolling by pledging $500,000 from the province before volunteers and commuters got in on the action. The Vancouver Sun printed a special edition of the paper for the occasion, made even more special by the Canucks alumni who were selling it. Passersby of all ages were quick to stop for autographs and photo ops with their favourite living legends, who were happy to lend their time and support.
“Hockey, I think here in Canada and Vancouver, is a product that brings us all together and you can see that this morning…it’s very gratifying for me to be involved, I enjoy it. It’s a number of years now I’ve been involved here with Raise-a-Reader,” said Kurtenbach, before posing with one of his youngest fans sporting a Canucks baby bib.
Darcy Rota echoed the sentiment. “It’s great, and people are very very supportive of the Raise-a-Reader program. We’ve had great donations and of course people love the Canucks and the connection the alumni have with the Canucks is really special.”
The Canucks alumni recognize the importance of literacy in the community. The ability to read and comprehend is crucial for the growth and success of young and old alike.
“I really hope we make a difference. I know [Raise-a-Reader] makes a difference,” Rota expressed.
This year’s 13th annual Raise-a-Reader campaign saw at least $2 million raised across Canada. Of that, $31,409.32 came from Vancouver street corners – that’s a lot of pocket change.