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Holt the phone

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

When Ray Holt’s phone rang Monday morning, the 89-year-old answered it and listened as the caller told him he was the winner of a new car.

Holt wasn’t born yesterday and he was right to question his new prize. What was the catch? He needed to pay for shipping from Tokyo? His credit card number was mandatory for verification? A copy of his house key was required?

The voice on the other end was Chris Gear, vice president & general counsel executive for the Vancouver Canucks, and this was one of the happiest calls he’s ever made.

The call was legit, as is the prize. Holt’s name was randomly pulled in the 2012 Canucks for Kids Fund Telethon draw and he’s now the proud owner of a 2012 Chevrolet Orlando LS, courtesy of General Motors of Canada.

Even after hanging up the phone, Holt remained in disbelief about his windfall – and for good reason.

When Holt, who lives at home with his cat Max and receives regular visits from his caregiver Lina, donated to the 2012 Canucks for Kids Fund Telethon, he did it out of the goodness of his heart. Holt had no idea there was a car up for grabs.

Soon he’ll be cruising the streets of Vancouver in it.

“I didn’t sleep very well last night, I feel like a young kid all excited,” laughed Holt, who was at Rogers Arena Tuesday to take care of the paperwork associated with his new 174-horsepower ride (he also ran into Jim Robson during his visit).

Holt was so excited about his car he and Lina drove to Dueck Downtown Chevrolet Buick GMC Ltd. Monday afternoon to pick up a pamphlet detailing the auto inside and out – “I couldn’t wait, I wanted to see the car.”

Holt was born in 1922 in Vancouver and his father, Sidney, had him into ever sport imaginable at a very young age. By four-years-old he was attending Vancouver Maroons games with his dad, and after they folded Holt and Holt alone supported the Pacific Coast Hockey League’s Vancouver Lions.

“My dad was more of a wrestling fan,” chuckled Holt. “He used to leave me at Denman and he’d go to the Georgia Auditorium on the corner (to watch wrestling), then he’d pick me up after the game. Mom didn’t know that. I’m not sure if she ever found out.

“Denman Arena was a great big wooden barn. It was a wonderful place; I can still picture the inside of it. As a young fella, I was just thrilled when my dad took me. We’d sit up on the top floor and you had to lean over to see the whole rink, if you sat back in your seat, you only saw three-quarters of the rink.”

Holt’s parents passed away long ago, as did his brother and sister and wife, Eleanor, 18-years-ago in June of 1994, shortly after the Canucks lost to the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Final.

The gold wedding ring he wears is a symbol of his eternal love for Eleanor and the grungy is-that-blue-or-gray Canucks hat he sports day in and day out displays his rock steady pride in his team.

Now, because he’s a Canucks supporter in every sense of the word, Holt will be turning heads from here to wherever his new car (“I’ll get it in either silver or red”) takes him.

One road trip is already in the works as Holt will return to Rogers Arena this fall to appear as an intermission guest. He’ll be driven around the ice in a swanky Chevrolet before taking in his first live Canucks game in a long, long time.

Holt hasn’t attended a game since Eleanor died and regardless of how exciting an effort the Canucks put forth when he’s here, it likely won’t rival the incredible memories he has from watching hockey with his wife.

“We watched a lot of games at the Coliseum,” smiled Holt, reminiscing. “We had handicap seats in the northeast corner and I have some wonderful memories from there, especially for my wife. She was very sick at that time and the usher always paid special attention to her, his name was George and I’ll never forget him for that.”

The question had to be asked: Is Holt more excited for the new car or to see another Canucks game live?

He smiled with a grin before answering: “They coincide, they go together."

As do this kindhearted elder and his shiny new car.

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