It’s official: The Lloydminster U13 Girls Blazers have won the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup.
The team was among twelve finalists that were shooting to get $100,000 to put towards a vital need in their community, and foster inclusion in the sport of hockey. These young Blazers chose to work on physical accessibility, after being inspired by a father of one of the team members.
Upon learning that he was facing challenges watching games due to local rinks not being as accessible as need be for his wheelchair, they took it upon themselves to submit a video into the running for the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup, a nationwide contest to support local teams do great things. The team, coaching crew, family and friends also spent weeks getting the word out to the community through community events and advocating for a barrier free, bi-provincial Para-Ice Hockey Arena.
At a star-studded local ceremony that aired on Hockey Night in Canada and featured local dignitaries, Olympians and friends of all stripes, the girls shined the brightest upon learning they’d won the Good Deeds Cup. A cheque for $100,000 was also presented to the team, which they then gave to Inclusion Lloydminster to put towards upgrades at existing arenas and the new Lloydminster Place arena, slated to be complete in 2025.
Left Winger Rose Tindall and Defense player Maddi Drobot were among the teammates that accepted the award, and said aside from the impact of their success, another positive was the understanding they picked up along the way.
“Our community has supported us from the start, and now we can have an accessible rink in reality.” Tindall explains.
“Before we did this, none of us really knew much about [physical accessibility,] but then we got told about it and we realized this is a serious situation that is happening all over the nation.” Drobot adds.
Elyssa Dunbar, who is behind the bench with the Blazers, says she’s been delighted by watching the girls grow while working to win the Good Deeds Cup.
“It’s been absolutely amazing watching them work together and have community support. They’ve put a lot of time and effort into this, and to see them win is awesome because they totally deserve it.”
Among the Good Deeds Cup Ambassadors who congratulated the girls at the announcement was two-time Sledge Hockey World Champ and Paralympic Medalist Tyler McGregor. McGregor noted that inclusion needs to be approached holistically for all of its facets, and hockey can be the thing that unites people if the work like the Blazers are doing continues.
“I think every kid, regardless of their circumstance, should have every opportunity to grow up and be able to come to an arena and be able to access it, whether they want to play or whether they want to watch. This is a sport that unites everybody and teaches us much about life. I think hockey transcends something we just fall in love with when we’re young.”
Lloydminster’s U13 Blazers not only made history in our community, but history for the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup Nationwide. With this award, The Blazers are the first all-girls team to win the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup. That resonated with Four-Time Olympic Gold Medalist and Ambassador Caroline Ouellette, who was among the people to help award the girls for their triumph and celebrate their plan to make rinks accessible for all.
“What I love about this program is it really builds the leaders of tomorrow. Through their actions, they realized it doesn’t matter that they are eleven or twelve years old, they can really have an impact in their community.”
Fellow Ambassador Sarah Nurse, who also won gold at the last Winter Olympics for hockey, also shared this sentiment about the team and their future.
“This team, this year in Lloydminster, has been incredibly inspiring. I think that I’m inspired, they’ve inspired not only their community but also the entire country. To take an idea, to make hockey more accessible and more inclusive to everybody else and be able to really do that in their community, they’re going to be leaders. Not only in Lloydminster, but the rest of Canada.”
The day was not without a surprise announcement as well. Ross Ulmer, owner of the local Chevy dealership bearing his name, upon being inspired by the girls, pledged to double the donation. Now, the $100,000 from the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup will go directly to local initiatives, with another $100,000 from Ulmer Chevrolet going to Inclusion Canada to foster goals like Lloydminster’s U13 Girls Blazers have all over the country.
Tami Smith, President of Inclusion Lloydminster, says this was an amazing campaign to watch and not only makes change today, but in the long-standing future as well.
“The fact that these girls have come together, competed, and raised this money and are donating it to us is amazing. We, of course, are going to partner with the City of Lloydminster, and we want to make sure our new rink [Lloydminster Place] is the most inclusive in Canada.”
In addition to the prize and national feature, the team will now be engraved on the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup to commemorate their contribution to their community years from now.