(Edmonton, AB) - The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF) announced today an initial investment of $325,000 to Sport Central in support of the Dave Semenko Legacy Project with financial support from the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) Goals & Dreams fund. The EOCF has committed to fund two Sport Central initiatives: Dave's Drive and Put a Lid on a Kid over the next 10 years.
The EOCF was joined by members of Dave's family, Dave's teammates from the 1984-85 Stanley Cup Champion Edmonton Oilers, local Oilers Alumni and 13 kids and their families who have been provided the opportunity to participate in sports thanks to Sport Central.
"The Oilers Foundation is thrilled to find a home for the Dave Semenko Legacy Project with Sport Central; an organization that shares our vision of supporting youth and ensuring they have the equipment and means to play whatever sport they choose," said Natalie Minckler, EOCF Executive Director. "Sports play such an important role in a child's life, teaching kids about respect, teamwork and the importance of living an active lifestyle, and the Foundation is pleased to work with Sport Central to eliminate barriers for youth looking to play sports."
"Dave was a fierce competitor, loyal teammate, fan-favourite and above all a friend to so many in the City of Edmonton and across the hockey world," said Oilers legend and captain of the 1984-85 Oilers, Wayne Gretzky. "For us to be able to create such a special legacy in Dave's memory is a fitting way for us to celebrate the Centennial Greatest team honour."
Formed in 1991, Sport Central was created by community-minded individuals who wanted to see children in need have access to necessary sport equipment. Since its inception, Sport Central has provided over 135,000 low-income kids with safe gear, enabling them to participate in the sport of their choice. In partnership with the EOCF and Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG), Sport Central will facilitate Dave's Drive, an annual equipment drive helping raise awareness, funds and donations for the charitable organization. In addition, the Dave Semenko Put a Lid on a Kid program will be aimed at increasing head safety and concussion prevention for kids in sport by providing new, certified helmets for registered minor hockey players and new bicycle recipients. Every helmet will have a #27 decal applied to it in honour of Dave.
"Sport Central is thrilled to partner with the EOCF, OEG, the NHL and the NHLPA on a common goal of helping children of low-income families get the sports equipment they need to play," said Sheldon Oleksyn, Sport Central Executive Director. "We are deeply honoured to assist Dave Semenko's legacy and memory across Oil Country and beyond in ways we believe #27 would be proud of."
Semenko was a legendary Oiler and integral member of the 1984-85 Championship team, who passed away in 2017 after a brief but courageous battle with cancer. He was not only an ambassador for the Oilers, but for the entire hockey community. As such, NHL and NHLPA Goals & Dreams fund joined in honouring Dave with additional funds that will be donated in the form of new equipment to Sport Central.
"The players are proud to help further Dave Semenko's memory with this donation of hockey equipment over the next three years through NHLPA Goals & Dreams to Sport Central," said Mathieu Schneider, NHLPA Special Assistant to the Executive Director. "Dave Semenko was a longtime NHLPA member who was known for being a great teammate with an unquestioned passion for the game. This equipment from the players' program should allow many more children in Alberta to play hockey as Dave's legacy continues."
Dave Semenko, along with his 1984-85 teammates, will be celebrated tonight at Rogers Place in an intimate and interactive evening of storytelling during the NHL Centennial Greatest Team Celebration, and his memory will live on through Sport Central and the Dave Semenko Legacy Project.
To learn more about the EOCF's life-changing work in the community, visit OilersFoundation.ca.