After a lengthy 22-season career where he amassed over 2,200 penalty minutes and lifted the Stanley Cup, Brad May now dedicates a large portion of his post-NHL time towards Hockey Helps the Homeless (HHTH).
“I’m a former NHL player… I’ve lived a privileged life, but there are people in Canada who are sleeping on the streets. If we as a community don’t do our part to end homelessness, we’re just a part of the problem,” May said.
Founded in 1996, HHTH is a charitable organization that hosts all-day pro-am and collegiate level hockey tournaments in various cities across Canada.
Players are required to raise at least $500 each, with the funds staying local to benefit homeless support agencies.
This year was HHTH’s sixth in the KW region and was hosted at RIM Park on Oct. 25. The tournament surpassed its goal, raising over $238,000.
The money will be divided between Lutherwood’s Safe Haven Shelter, House of Friendship’s Charles Street Men’s Shelter, oneRoof Youth Services, and UW K-W.
There were 16 teams in the tournament with 15 players each.
Every team was sponsored by a different local business, including Manulife Financial, Activa, and Parkway Ford. Team HockeyTech led the way, raising over $40,000 for the tournament.
Paul Reitzel, a member of the organizing committee for the tournament, praised the fundraising-drive of the players.
“[The participants] are only required to raise $500, but almost all of them raise much more than that. They do a great job of spreading the word and getting the whole community involved,” he said.
What differentiates HHTH from other charity hockey games is its “be-a-pro” experience. Participants are treated like professional hockey players the entire day: they check-in at the bag drop, walk into dressing rooms with all their gear set up, and even receive a complimentary lunch.
Each team was also joined by at least one former NHL player.
This year’s tournament was headlined by May, Gary Leeman, John Scott, Nik Antropov, Todd Bertuzzi, and Raffi Torres.
For the amateurs in the tournament, this gives them a chance to skate alongside some of their favourite hockey players and listen to unique stories in the locker rooms.
Scott, was initially drawn to the organization for its be-a-pro experience and who supported HHTH for three years.
“It’s class from top to bottom. The [amateurs] are all huge fans of the game… and the experience of being treated like a professional is what makes this so special,” he said.
HHTH has 14 more stops on its 2019-20 tour, and will be in Calgary next on Nov. 1.