$238,715 — that’s how much was raised at the Ferguslea Properties Ltd. Senators Soirée presented by Bell, which took place on Saturday, Nov. 23 at Canadian Tire Centre.
Hosted once per season, the Senators Soirée is always among the most highly anticipated events put on by the Ottawa Senators Foundation and Senators Hockey Club. Beyond giving attendees a chance to mingle with the Senators players and coaching staff, it also rallies community support for its many programs, which make a direct impact on underprivileged or struggling youth throughout the region.
“We’re not all fortunate to grow up playing sports,” says Anthony Duclair, right-wing for the Senators. “That’s why this event is so important to the entire team — it’s all about giving back to the community and providing opportunities to the less fortunate kids in our area.”
Duclair’s sentiment was echoed throughout the room, as the safari-themed Sens Soirée hosted over 600 fans, donors, sponsors and special guests. Among them was longtime Sens fan and local resident Amleto Greco, who stands by the Foundation’s mission by supporting this great cause.
“Having kids in sports and as a youth hockey coach myself, it’s a big deal for my family to support the Ottawa Senators Foundation,” says Greco. “There are immense benefits of giving back to the community through sports, such as empowering kids to see possibilities for their future.”
Also among the attendees were preteens Declan and Quinn Moher, brothers who participate in a variety of sports thanks to the Foundation’s SENS Power Plays program. They were featured in a Q&A session conducted by two of the Senators’ alternate captains; Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mark Borowiecki, explaining how the Foundation has touched their lives.
“Without the help of the Foundation, my three kids wouldn’t be in group sports,” explains Kristen Lewis, Declan and Quinn’s mother. “Hockey is a very expensive sport, with each kid costing over $600. When you factor in the other sports they want to play — as a single mom, it’s impossible.”
“It feels amazing that they give us the chance to play and make friends.” Declan adds.
“My favourite part of hockey is making friends and scoring goals.” says Quinn.
The SENS Power Plays program is a prime example of how the funds raised by the Sens Soirée will benefit Ottawa’s youth. Through a partnership with Their Opportunity, the Foundation invests $50,000 per year into the program which gives deserving low-income families the chance to enroll their children in 12 different recreational sports.
“The unique part of the program is that the kids have to do a community project as a way to pay it forward,” says Randy Gill, President and CEO of Their Opportunity. “From participating in street cleanup days or graffiti removal projects to visiting senior citizens in their homes, it’s just amazing to watch these kids change lives and their community.”
This program, along with the countless positive outcomes of the Foundation’s initiatives, are made possible thanks to the generosity of the Ottawa community. And that generosity was on full display at the Sens Soirée, as within a matter of hours, the event raised $238,715 through live auctions, raffles and more.
“The community does so much for us players,” says Duclair, “so it’s only right that we give back at every opportunity.”