Mr. Katz and the Katz Family have given millions of dollars in support of charities across Edmonton doing amazing work to make our community a better place.
Compassion for the community is the driving theme, and now it's being promoted by a second generation of philanthropic efforts.
Daryl Katz and his wife Renee's children, 16-year-old twins, Chloe and Harrison Katz, are spearheading Hockey Helps Kids, which just wrapped up the second year of the program and is poised for much more. The innovative program is about kids helping kids, and sees junior high school students supporting local charities by raising awareness as they team up with Oilers players and Hockey Helps Kids team captains Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Milan Lucic and Connor McDavid.
"Our hope is to expand Hockey Helps Kids in other NHL markets," says Harrison looking to the future.
"Our first year started with 44,000 (online) votes and this year we doubled that with 89,000. This shows that Hockey Helps Kids is becoming a larger brand that will be able to catch traction in other markets."
Chloe couldn't agree more, and says the overwhelming online presence is a telling sign of the value of Hockey Helps Kids.
"It made us truly realize how much of an impact people as young as the kids participating can have in the world," says Chloe.
"I hope that the students realize how much of a difference they can make in their community and that they continue to help their charities and other non-profit groups well into the future.
Here's how Hockey Helps Kids works: junior high schools in Edmonton apply and present to a Hockey Helps Kids panel, including Harrison and Chloe, an educational consultant and a past Hockey Helps Kids student and four local schools are then chosen to participate. Each school picks a local charity they want to support and they produce a short video about the impact their chosen charity makes in the community and then the online voting period takes over. Each team has an honorary captain from the Oilers that represents their school.
Chloe and Harrison were at Tuesday's Oilers game when the Dallas Stars visited Rogers Place to help recognize Father Michael Troy Junior High School, their captain, Oilers forward, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sport Central, the winning team from year two of the program. Father Michael Troy's students, staff and parents were also in attendance at the game to celebrate winning the coveted Charity Cup.
Father Michael Troy students chose to support Sport Central, a local non-profit that provides affordable sports equipment for families and children with the desire to be involved in minor sports.
"The charity they chose, Sport Central, changes the lives of so many kids and gives them opportunities that they would otherwise never have," says Chloe.
"Sport Central gives kids the experience of playing on a hockey team or any sports team, while building important life lessons that they receive from playing sports."
"Harrison and I both grew up playing on sports teams, and we know that there's no better feeling than knowing that you are part of a team that is all working hard towards a common goal," adds Chloe.
"I think that this really relates to the main idea of Hockey Helps Kids - the teamwork of each school working together to help their charity."
The $25,000 won by Father Michael Troy will be donated to Sport Central to help ensure every child in Edmonton and the surrounding community has an equal chance to be involved in sports.
Team Eberle and St. Edmund School chose the Guardian Angels Program in the Edmonton Catholic School District Foundation, Team McDavid and Highlands School teamed up with Make-A-Wish Northern Alberta and Team Lucic and John D. Bracco School's charity of choice was the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton.
The Guardian Angels Program, Make-A-Wish Northern Alberta and the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton each receive $10,000 for all of their hard work and dedication.
The growth of Hockey Helps Kids makes Chloe proud of where she and Harrison were born.
"My brother and I grew up in Edmonton. We know how passionate the fans-especially the kids around our age are-for hockey," says Chloe.
"Because of our connection with the Oilers we wanted to do something that would be fun for other kids. We know what kids find exciting, since we're kids ourselves, and we wanted them to have fun while also learning important life lessons and values."
Harrison backs Chloe's statement up and explains how Hockey Helps Kids is unique to him.
"To me Hockey Helps Kids is different than most charities whose main focus is just on raising funds," says Harrison.
"Our goal is to raise awareness and funds for a variety of charities while also teaching kids important life lessons that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives."
Harrison doesn't have a specific favourite memory from Hockey Helps Kids, but enjoys the entire process.
"I love to watch the progression throughout the year," says Harrison.
"From selecting the school in the summer, to the kickoff in October, to the voting and finally the sprint to the end," says Harrison.
"To watch the kids learn and grow as people is truly the most satisfying part of the year."
"The most important lesson that Hockey Helps Kids teaches is about the kids getting involved. They learn many important life lessons through Hockey Helps Kids. They learn the importance of giving back to the community as well as communication skills and commitment to projects."
The future of Hockey Helps Kids? It's very bright.
"I would just like to say thank you SO much to all of the past schools, kids, charities, Oilers captains, as well as all of the voters who have been so supportive in participating with Hockey Helps Kids," says Chloe.
"Harrison and I are so grateful for all of your dedication and support in order to help make a change in the Edmonton community. You guys are the reason for Hockey Helps Kids success to date, and we can't wait for Year Three and the many years to come!"