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Carkinator Rally revving up for Winchester hospital

by Rob Brodie / Ottawa Senators
Senators defenceman Matt Carkner is helping launch the Carkninator Car and Moto Rally this Saturday. It's a major fundraising event for the Winchester District Memorial Hospital (Photo by Margaret Link).

The Carkinator is ready to roll again in support of health care close to home.

Ottawa Senators defenceman Matt Carkner has lent an old nickname and his support to the inaugural Carkinator Car and Moto Rally, which is set for Saturday in his hometown just south of the nation's capital. The event is a fundraiser for the Winchester District Memorial Hospital, a major health-care hub in the Seaway Valley.

"It's going to be a big event for Winchester to keep funding going to a local area hospital," said Carkner, whose heart is close to the facility. "It's a great asset to have health care close to home. I grew up using Winchester hospital. My sister had kids there and my brother-in-law ... they use the hospital all the time."

As for the name of the event, organizers have taken a page from Carkner's hockey past.

"My old nickname in hockey in Cleveland (with the American Hockey League's Barons) was the Carkinator. Kind of like the Terminator," Carkner said with a grin. "They just thought it was a cool name for a car rally."

To participate in the rally, entrants can register a car or motorcyle at www.wdmh.on.ca/foundation and pledge to raise a minimum of $500 per team (the $50 registration fee can count toward that total).

Registration begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with the rally set for an 11 a.m. start. It'll head out on a designated route through the countryside around Winchester, with teams performing various challenges at "pit stops" along the way. A wrapup barbecue is slated for 3 p.m. at Winchester Arena, served up by the Winchester Hospital Heelers. It also includes an autograph session with Carkner and Senators teammate Jesse Winchester, a native of nearby Long Sault, Ont.

"You'll be able to challenge me and Jesse Winchester at some points (during the rally)," said Carkner. "We'll have a lot of entertainment for the kids at the end of the event. It's supposed to be a nice fun family day and we're hoping to raise some funds for the Winchester hospital."

The rally is open to anyone, including any Ottawa residents who might want to lend a hand.

"Our target market is Winchester and the surrounding area, but if people here in Ottawa feel like they want to get involved, it's a chance for them (to help out)," said Carkner. "It's open to everyone and we're hoping it's a success."

The new and expanded  Winchester District Memorial Hospital, which opened its doors in February 2009, is a rural community teaching health-care facility that provides service for 90,000 residents in the area.

For more information or to show your support, log on to www.wdmh.on.ca/foundation.


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