Looking back on my childhood, I have many fond memories involving a wide range of celebrations, friendships, family gatherings, vacations, school successes, beloved pets and much more. These memories also include the various sports that I participated in, which included swimming lessons, baseball, curling, skating and others. Now I may not have been a star athlete and to this day my swimming and skating abilities lack a certain grace, but being involved in these activities opened up many opportunities in my life. Friendships were formed, a lesson of ‘if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again’ was instilled in me, learning how to gracefully accept defeat and working as a team are just a small portion of what was taught throughout these experiences. Although some of these lessons came at a rather young age, it is still something that I can remember clearly. Through sports, children can take experiences and carry them throughout their lives, applying them to varying circumstances they may encounter.
KidSport, a national not-for-profit organization, is well aware of the benefits that come from children being involved in organized sports. Through KidSport, children aged 18 and under are provided with confidential financial assistance for registration fees and equipment, an opportunity they might otherwise not experience. In Martensville alone, KidSport has been active within the community, helping numerous children each year participate in activities. In 2017, a total of 26 kids ranging in age from 3 to 17, were able to participate in local sports through a total of $12,288.85 that was donated and raised throughout the year. The countless values and benefits provided through the participation in organized sport can help to create a happier child overall, even leading to an improvement in their academic performances.
The Martensville Messenger has recently teamed up with Martensville KidSport in hopes of raising even more funds in upcoming years. “A Sporting Chance” will be an ongoing fundraiser to help bring awareness to this amazing cause, with the goal of ensuring that all children in the community have the chance to participate in sports. The idea behind this fundraiser came from a well-known member of the community, Brian Kuyak. Kuyak, who spent many years working at the Martensville Sports Centre has seen countless children benefit from sports, and has also seen firsthand the yearning on a child’s face when they are unable to participate themselves. “The first year I was a Zamboni pilot I would often see this one little ‘rinkrat’ hanging around on his own. I got to know him a bit and wondered what he was up to since he didn’t seem to be involved in anything that was taking place. One day I asked him why he was always hanging around and he said that he just wanted to be on a team. That moment inspired me and I have always contributed to KidSport since then,” Kuyak said. It was because of this experience that Kuyak decided to run an idea for a fundraiser through the local KidSport committee. This idea was then presented to the Martensville Messenger and from there, “A Sporting Chance” was born.
Still in the infancy stages, “A Sporting Chance” will provide people with the ability to make donations online that will go directly to the KidSport program in Martensville. Those donating will be given the option to have their contribution noted in the Martensville Messenger. Often, donations that come in are made in memory of a loved one that has passed away, and Kuyak felt that this would be a way to honour those contributions. Recently, donations were made in memory of two of Kuyak’s co-workers who have passed away within the past year. “I thought that it would be nice to highlight these people and help kids in the community at the same time. KidSport does such a great job of helping kids participate in sports and those sports can be vital. They learn so many far reaching things. They learn life lessons that can help prepare them for the future,” added Kuyak.
Angie Reddekopp, Program Coordinator for the City of Martensville, works within the local KidSport chapter and is constantly looking for new ways to help raise funds, directly seeing the need for it within the community. Although Martensville is under the Warman & District KidSport chapter, all money that is raised within Martensville is utilized in the community. “We have worked together to do inter-community fundraisers, but the majority of all funding comes from what you do locally,” Reddekopp explained. Several events are held throughout the year that go to supporting Martensville children such as; Play and Skate with Santa, Variety Night and Winter Fun Fest. Additionally, a fundraiser is held in May for KidSport month. “In May we do our campaign and work to get the local business community involved with cutouts, dress down days and this was the first year we did our Corporate Friends of KidSport. We had a fairly decent response and hopefully it will continue to grow each year,” said Reddekopp.
The “A Sporting Chance” fundraising opportunity is something that Reddekopp is extremely excited about and is looking forward to building on. “I am so happy that Brian suggested this. His heart is really in this. I really feel that it is very near and dear to his heart with him working in the rink for so many years and seeing the kids participating and seeing other kids that don’t have that opportunity. Kids being involved in team activities and sports really does benefit them overall,” Reddekopp stated.
In early 2018, the Martensville Messenger will have an option available through our website, which will provide the opportunity to make a personal or corporate donation to KidSport. Those donating can choose to remain anonymous, or can choose to have their contribution included in the “A Sporting Chance” section within the newspaper. Donations made of $20 or more to KidSport are eligible for a tax receipt, which get mailed out each February. Watch for more information in upcoming issues of the Martensville Messenger.