|Senators defenceman Matt Carkner has joined forces with Big Brothers Big Sisters Ottawa to help raise awareness and funds for its Buddy Up mentoring program (Photo courtesy of Big Brothers Big Sisters Ottawa). |
might soon get the chance to do some mentoring on what could be a more youthful Senators blue line.
For the time being, however, the Ottawa defenceman is focused on something completely different in that area. Tonight, he'll help launch a fundraising effort for Buddy Up, a Big Brothers/Big Sisters Ottawa program aimed at providing support for children in need.
"It's to raise awareness in the community about the need for a mentoring program in Ottawa," said Carkner, the Buddy Up campaign's co-chair along with Ottawa Police Chief Vernon White. "Right now, they need all the help they can get. They're getting some funding through the United Way, but they've lost quite a bit of their funding as well.
"So it's a big push to raise awareness in the community to back a program that gets kids the mentoring and the guidance that they need. I think it's a great program."
Carkner's involvement with Big Brothers/Big Sisters Ottawa is somewhat of a natural. During his American Hockey League days with the Cleveland Barons, he was heavily involved with the organization's branch in that Ohio city.
"I worked with the program in Cleveland throughout my five years there," said Carkner. "I used to do a Christmas program where I’d give underprivileged kids Christmas presents or some necessities that they would otherwise have not received. They knew a lot of kids who were very much in need.
"It was an easy medium to work through. I got in contact with them and they hooked me up with the right kids who really did need help. It was everything from winter jackets to mattresses. Some kids have never had a mattress before. They’re sleeping on the floor. All the guys on the team got involved and I really liked that program."
Now, he says, "I'm just trying to lend a hand and pump up this campaign (in Ottawa) a little bit."
"I just like to help out in every way we can," added Carkner. "This is a little thing for me, but it’s huge for the Buddy Up campaign. They need all the help they can get."
To learn more about the campaign or to make a donation, log on to www.buddyup.ca
"It's a big push to raise awareness in the community to back a program that gets kids the mentoring and the guidance that they need. I think it's a great program ... This is a little thing for me, but it’s huge for the Buddy Up campaign. They need all the help they can get." - Matt Carkner
Carkner, meanwhile, is also working toward getting himself ready for a third campaign with the Senators. His 2010-11 season was cut short by arthroscopic knee surgery in mid-March, but the 30-year-old native of nearby Winchester, Ont., is hard at work to make sure he's ready for training camp in September.
"It’s been a slow process," he said. "We weren’t rushing anything because the season was over before I would have recovered. We’ve taken our time and it’s feeling good right now. I'm back into the swing of things with working out and setting my sights on training camp. I’m going to be more than likely 100 per cent by training camp. I'm looking forward to it and excited about getting back on the ice."
The surgery was necessary to "clean out" the knee, which had been paining Carkner for awhile.
"I probably played a month and a half with a bad knee which kept swelling up," he said. "It was an injury that (got worse) over time and it needed to be cleaned up. It wasn't anything major, it was just much needed. Having it done at the time that I did, it ended my season but that might be a blessing in disguise because it gives me more time to heal.
"Now I'm just working to get back in shape. I haven't played hockey for awhile, so I'm going to get back on the ice as soon as I can."
Carkner was on crutches for two weeks after surgery "but that was basically to let it recover as much as it could."
"The doctors said it was a six-week injury and that's basically what it was," he said. "If I had to play after six weeks, I probably would have but we've taken our time. I wasn't forcing myself to get back out on the ice. It stinks missing the playoffs, it stinks ending your season without playing but I’m just focused on next year and getting better."