Smiles circulated throughout Jobing.com Arena on Dec. 20 as the Coyotes cruised to a 2-0 victory, but the grins seemed a bit brighter up in the northwest tower suite, where approximately 20 children from the West Valley Child Crisis Center took in the shutout win.
The holiday season is a time of joy for most children, but it’s often tough for those at the Child Crisis Center, who are separated from their parents and families due to domestic situations that no child should have to endure. The Glendale-based facility provides temporary shelter and supervision for children who are victims of, or at risk of, abuse, neglect, or abandonment, in a safe, nurturing, home-like environment.
Equally important is their overall goal of ending the cycle of child abuse.
Stepping in to help end this cycle were the Leading Ladies – the significant others of the Coyotes’ players – who took it upon themselves to host these kids at the game and provide them with a brief, yet joyous, respite from their current situations.
“These children are so precious and amazing, it pains me to think of what they’ve had to endure,” said Carmen, wife of defenseman Kurt Sauer. “It’s so great to see them enjoying the game, having a good time with one another and being able to just be kids, even if it’s only for one night.”
The night featured plenty of presents for the children, including the new Coyotes third jersey and a post-game autograph session with the entire Coyotes roster. It was an opportunity not only to get their jerseys personally signed by the players, but also to rub shoulders and joke around with their new found heroes.
“Their reactions to meeting the players brought our staff to tears,” said Theresa Blevins, Director of Development and Community Relations for the West Valley Child Crisis Center. “We’re so grateful for the Coyotes and the assistance they’ve given us. It’s such a positive experience for these kids to come here tonight. They’re definitely going to remember this for a long time.”
|Sara (Tellqvist), left, and Helena (Michalek), right, give toys to children of the West Valley Child Crisis Center after a Coyotes game. (Photo by Don Schwartz/Phoenix Coyotes.) |
Helping to preserve these memories were the digital cameras, purchased by the Leading Ladies, which will now call the West Valley Child Crisis Center home. Though a seemingly simple gesture, the cameras will provide the children with a way to capture the moments that have too often gone unnoticed throughout their young lives.
“We wrapped a lot of presents for this evening, but it wasn’t hard to notice what the real gifts were,” said Sara, fiancée of goaltender Mikael Tellqvist. “Just seeing the excitement and happiness in those children’s faces is what the holiday season is all about. It’s important to let these children know that there are people out there who care about them. I definitely hope we get to experience this again next year.”
To learn more about the West Valley Child Crisis Center and how to get involved, please visit www.wvccc.org