Check Out all the Photos from the Event
Sunday, January 28, 2007
(TORONTO) - There is something to be said about the pure joy that creeps across a child's face in the form of smile when they come face to face with one of their heroes.
The Maple Leafs spent the day evoking those joyful smiles on the faces of parents and kids who earned the right to skate with their heroes by collecting pledges for the Easter Seals Society.
"To take them around the ice and see their reaction, see them smile, you know it certainly warms you up, that's for sure," said Bryan McCabe. "It's very rewarding for all of us."
McCabe, a veteran of this event, said it's an important tradition to continue on, and a tradition that the new guys in town were also happy to join in on.
"The game we play, it's only a game," said Pavel Kubina. "It's fun but this is something else and this is what matters, to see them smile, it's unbelievable."
Fellow defenceman Hal Gill agreed.
"I'm glad that it's something I do and that I'm a part of that is something that these kids enjoy," said Gill. "They like watching hockey and they're good fans."
The event is unique because the Easter Seals children who benefit from the fundraiser are on hand to meet the Leafs and be pushed around the ice, along with the volunteers who raise money to help give these children more independence.
"It's a special event because it does the basic thing which is to raise money for the Easter Seals society, but also the kids get a chance to be very involved," said Jeff Barnes, chair of the board, Easter Seals Ontario. "They are kids who have physical disabilities but they've got all the fan feelings and all the hero worship that everybody else does and they see they're heroes out there with them spending time."
"And for the other kids who aren't physically disabled, they go out and get the pledges and do the work, come here, and it's a great that they know that they can do a good thing, but also have a great time," added Barnes.
Between the excited kids, and players mingling about, the chaotic scene did not take away from the special aura at Air Canada Centre, and it wasn't lost on anyone in attendance.
"I think any community where the fans give so much of themselves to a franchise, the franchise should do the same, and there's a lot of places that don't do that," said George Stroumboulopoulos, host, CBC's The Hour. "There aren't just any players out here either, you've got the captain of the team out here, you know Bryan McCabe skating around, Pavel Kubina on the heels of a great game last night is skating around."
Stroumboulopoulos was on hand as a celebrity host, and posed for just as many photos as the Leafs.
"I mean think about it, you get rich and famous and you're traveling around. Your view can be skewed so if you don't spend time with those that truly live life, then you're missing out on something. I think it's amazing that they're here, and they should be here."
Chad Kilger is well aware of the team's position. "We're fortunate in this community that we're really loved," said Kilger "It's nice to come out and share."
The annual Easter Seals skate brings joy to the Leafs and Air Canada Centre, but more importantly it is taken home through the memories of the kids who have just lived out a dream.
"I always talk about all the joy and pride they take in all of their accomplishments and it just shines out," said Barnes. "People have a tendency to be a little sad about the whole thing, but these are kids first and Easter Seals kids second."Check Out all the Photos from the Event