Chief Bill Blair has joined Team Gardiner in support of Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner’s fundraising efforts for the Special Olympics provincial floor hockey championships in Ottawa.
A Special Olympics Ontario High 5 ambassador, Gardiner (@Jgardiner272) has challenged Ottawa Senators right winger Bobby Ryan to see who will raise the most funds, with a goal of $50,000 to support athletes taking part in the quadrennial Ontario tournament in Ottawa from May 7-9.
Gardiner came away with Blair and the rest of the Toronto Police Service’s support after visiting the Chief on March 23.
“While we are asking people to donate to Team Gardiner, it’s not just about winning... but the money that people are going to donate is really going to an important cause,” said Blair. “Our athletes need that support to go to the Games and to bring back the gold.”
Almost 400 athletes will participate in the Games, hosted by the Ottawa Police Service, at Carleton University.
To add spice to the challenge, Blair has challenged his Ottawa counterpart Charles Bordeleau. The losing police chief will have to put on the jersey of the opposing National Hockey League’s team.
Toronto Police hosted the 2007 provincial floor hockey tournament.
“Special Olympics is special to law enforcement in Ontario,” said Blair.
Police Services across Canada raised $1.8 million for Special Olympics last year.
Lynne Williams, Special Olympics director of advertising, praised Toronto Police for its support.
“Your organization is always the first to step up to the plate,” she said.
Last year, TPS raised $28,000 to send 21 Toronto athletes to the national games in Vancouver.
“When they found out, last year, that we needed funds to send athletes to Vancouver, they came up with the idea of online fundraising and other unique ways, including selling samosas,” she added.
Veteran Special Olympian Kevin Timberlake, who plays softball, basketball and floor hockey, accompanied Gardiner to the Chief’s office.
“Kevin has been to many major competitions and he’s an awesome ambassador for our organization,” said Williams.