A spine-tingling way to help

There’s no denying most of us take the ability to walk for granted.
Until we ourselves or someone close to us is debilitated, we don’t fully appreciate what those in society who suffer spinal injuries go through every day.
The thought of not having the ability to throw on my running shoes and go play sports, jaunt down the road to the corner store, or even just take an afternoon stroll gives my spine a case of the shivers.
The risk of spinal injuries is especially prevalent in Canada’s national pastime. Every season, from minor hockey all the way up to the professional ranks, a number of players become involved in on-ice incidents that result in them sustaining mid-grade to serious spinal damage.
Some of those are unfortunate enough to be paralyzed for life, with the game they love ripped away from them in an instant.
Taggs/Source for Sports stores, in conjunction with the Canadian and American Spinal Research Organizations, have created a hockey-focused fundraising campaign called “Shoot For a Cure.”
The goals of the campaign are spinal cord injury awareness, prevention, research and, with luck one day, the capacity to help those crippled by spinal cord damage to live normal lives again.
As part of the fundraiser, a collection of limited edition hockey paraphernalia is now available at Taggs/Source for Sports stores across Canada, including the local outlet on Scott Street.
The items include special KEWL hats, a popular fashion item with NHL players this year, which have been hand-signed by one of 55 stars from the big league.
Also available are boxed sets of three hockey pucks, featuring screened photos and autographs of Toronto Maple Leafs’ captain Mats Sundin, Calgary Flames’ captain Jarome Iginla, and Vancouver Canucks power forward Todd Bertuzzi.
All proceeds from these separate items go directly to “Shoot For a Cure,” which has the backing of the NHL Players’ Association.
Anyone wanting more information on the campaign can visit Taggs/Source for Sports, or go to the company’s website at www.sourceforsports.com
It’s a souvenir to cherish for puck lovers everywhere—and it’s a shot in the arm for a cause dedicated to getting the unfortunate victims of spinal cord injuries on the move once again.
• • •
Further to the subject of safety for the hockey-playing community, Hockey Canada has partnered with its 13 member branches across the country this fall to formulate an educational plan centred around the topic of checking in minor hockey.
One element of the plan is the issuing of a DVD entitled “Check it Out!” to all minor hockey associations in Canada. The DVD deals with such issues as angling and positioning, stick checking, body contact/confidence, and body checking.
Considering the reckless abandon I have seen many a minor hockey player show on the ice when it comes to recognizing the safety of their opponent, “Check it Out!” is an idea whose time has long ago come.
It might make the difference between a player picking him or herself off the ice after a hit, or having to be carried off.
Anyone who thinks that’s too extreme an idea needs to pull their toque up higher on their head so they can see what’s really going on.
• • •
The Fort Frances Midget “AA” Canadians were to have faced the Dryden Renegades on Sunday afternoon at the Ice for Kids Arena in exhibition play.
With the second half of play in the Manitoba Eastman Midget Hockey League close to getting underway, the Canadians decided a tune-up against their northern rivals was in order.
But the Renegades, who have a loss and a tie against the Canadians so far this season, were forced to bow out of the game after a significant portion of their team were sidelined by none other than a bout with the chicken pox.
That will eliminate the itch to play in a big hurry.
• • •
The Fort Frances OPP Midget “B” hockey squad nearly went the distance before losing 5-4 to the Current River Comets in the division championship final of the Pizza Hut Invitational in Thunder Bay this past weekend.
Tyler Starling had a hat trick for Fort Frances, while Blake Starling added the other.
• • •
Attention, all volleyball-loving youth in Rainy River District: the Sports for Youth Foundation has got the opportunity of a lifetime for you.
The Bellevue, Wash. organization is putting out the call to high school teams, club teams, and individual players aged 15-20 for the 2004 Goodwill Ambassadors International Volleyball Exchange.
Members of the team will participate in volleyball tournaments in such exotic locales as London, Paris, and Rome. For more info, call 1-425-255-8102 or go to www.volleyballtours.com
• • •
An overdue “shout out” of holiday gratitude: Thanks to M&M Meat Shops head honcho Garth Donald (okay, associate head honcho—everyone knows his wife, Judy, really runs the show there) for his U.S. Thanksgiving Day hospitality to me.
There may be things better in life than chowing down on the awesome spread of turkey and all the trimmings that Garth puts up for his fellow football fans each year, mixed in with a double dose of NFL action. But the list is pretty short.
I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing the feast twice now, and my stomach has been a most satisfied beneficiary on both occasions. Now, if the Cowboys would just show up to play next time, the day would be perfect.
• • •
A superstar salute to all those Fort High students, including grand prize winner and Muskie multi-sports participant Laura Busch, who took part in the “SMOKING! Don’t Start-Quit and Win” contest held last month throughout Northwestern Ontario.
I’ve seen firsthand how one’s health can be ravaged by a nicotine addiction. My father spent many years battling smoke-induced bronchitis, and it was a painful sight to watch him cough uncontrollably because of his decades-long habit.
The benefits for all of you who decided to kick your addiction in the butt, as well as those of you who already are smoke-free, are both short- and long-term, and almost too numerous to list.
Just pat yourselves on the back. You’ve earned it!

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