Age 12, (HOCKEY EASTERN ONTARIO)
WHAT THE ASSIST FUND MEANS TO ME: WILL FITTON
The Hockey Canada Foundation Assist Fund allowed Will’s son Wyatt to break out of his shell, and gave the family support when it needed it most
Playing hockey allows my son Wyatt to have a sense of normalcy when things aren’t always normal in our life.
Two-and-a-half years ago, our life got more difficult. My wife, Erin, was diagnosed with cancer. She was in remission, but the cancer came back. Moving to a single-income family of five made it harder to get our kids into their preferred extracurricular activities.
The Hockey Canada Foundation Assist Fund has allowed Wyatt to continue to play the game he loves without us worrying about registration fees. We found out about the Fund through our local hockey association registrar in Deep River, Ont., and qualifying for the funding was such a relief for our family.
When Erin got sick, we had to re-evaluate some life decisions. It was important to us as parents to try and make life as normal as possible for our three kids – now aged 16, 12 and eight years old.
Being at the arena and playing hockey allows Wyatt to be in a place where no problems exist and allows him to focus on something outside of home and school in a healthy way.
Wyatt was always an active kid growing up, but didn’t really show much interest in hockey until he was six years old. He asked to play at the end of the season, and I thought it was a passing fancy and told him to remind me at the end of summer to sign him up the next year. I honestly didn’t think he would. I was wrong and he reminded me about it daily about signing up.
At the time, Wyatt hadn’t skated much, but he figured it out and he hasn’t looked back.
Wyatt plays for the U13 Deep River Knights and hockey has become a part of who he is. The game is fun for him, and he tries to better himself every chance he gets. He gets to spend time with his friends and hockey has been a great way for Wyatt to break out of his shell. He was a shy kid, but hockey has become a big part of him. At 12 years old, he knows his mom is sick and doesn’t know all the details, but he knows what the Assist Fund has done for him and us as a family.
Having access to the Assist Fund is hugely important to our family and other Canadian families. It is one of those reasons why no kid is left behind – finances should not be a barrier to playing hockey. Playing the game builds so many skills in our kids – on and off the ice – and Wyatt has excelled because of hockey.
As much as it is about the game, it is also about the community and friendships that have been created that span beyond hockey. Hockey is a part of our community in Deep River and the teams, players, coaches and parents have become our extended family off the ice.
Our little hockey community rallied around our family, and we are so grateful for having those people when we needed them most.
We are a very active family – our oldest daughter figure skates and Wyatt plays hockey throughout the week, along with power skating on the weekends. We are at the arena six days a week. Our youngest son loves watching games but would rather ski.
Hockey is a lot of early mornings and long nights, but it is a part of our life. Without the sport, Wyatt would be lost. And without the Assist Fund, we would have had to make even more difficult decisions. We are so grateful Wyatt and other kids like him across Canada have access to funding to help support their dreams.
Wyatt is so passionate about hockey that he wants to play in the National Hockey League and for Team Canada, but if he can’t play at the highest level, he wants to be a referee or coach.
Do you want to help kids like Wyatt play the game they love? Visit HockeyCanada.ca/AssistFund to donate.