It’s not every day a 10-year-old boy gets to coach an NHL player but that’s what happened at the June 11 Afternoon for Emma Smith hockey game at Pearkes arena.
Organized by the Local Blackhawks old-timers hockey team, the game was a charity fundraiser to support the family of cancer-stricken Emma Smith. The 12-year-old was unable to attend the game as she is all but bed-ridden.
Emma’s younger brother Charlie was an honorary coach on the bench with their father Darrell also a coach. The hockey game drew a couple of special guest players, West Shore-raised NHL defenceman Tyson Barrie (Colorado Avalanche) and former Vancouver Canucks forward Matt Pettinger.
So it was welcome news that the Afternoon for Emma drew about $15,000, said organizer Ted Balderson of the Blackhawks.
“I am so proud of our guys for doing their best to help out the Smith family,” Balderson said. “Everyone on our team is a dad, so to say it was an emotional day would be an understatement. We’re not done yet though.”
The highlight of the day for Balderson was the honorary coaches, Darrell and Charlie, he said.
“They were such good sports and for a couple of hours at least we were able to have some laughs and bear witness to some terrible hockey.”
Pettinger brought a signed Sidney Crosby jersey and locals Jamie and Jordie Benn of the Dallas Stars also sent signed jerseys, which were sold in auction to players on the Blackhawks. With 30 members, the Blackhawks split into two teams for the game. Each paid $300 to play.
“[Barrie] was very patient with us as Charlie first got the puck signed by him and then we remembered to get a photo sometime later,” said Darrell on the family’s Emma Grace Smith Facebook page.
Emma Smith was initially diagnosed with brain cancer in 2012 and discovered in 2014 that it had spread to her spine. Because of her deteriorating health, her father Darrell has not worked since last summer so he can be with Emma and the family, putting a financial strain on the family at their Lake Hill home.
The hockey game was the latest fundraiser for the family following An Evening for Emma at Oak Bay High on May 29 which raised $13,000.
To contribute to the Smith family visit https://gogetfunding.com/helpemma./