Twelve cities. Ten provinces. A warship. A branded fan. A bunch, lost balls, nice goals, broken sticks, and memories. Eighteen days later, they all bring us to Vancouver. For those passing by, it’s a game of hockey. For the bulk of road crew, and the staff it’s a homecoming. For everybody, it’s a celebration.
We headed to our usual location of Granville Street for this one, but this time, did it a little bigger. Rather than go with three games at once this time, we pushed it to six, starting at West Georgia and heading all the way to Smithe. We needed a big crowd to ensure it would work, and boy, did the city ever respond.
But first, we had a goal in mind. Our main ambition for this year’s tour was to hit a million pounds raised all-time. We’ve been working to figure out the specific numbers, but to ensure that it wouldn’t even be a question, our friends at London Drugs absolutely blew us away. Before we even dropped the ball, they had shown up with 59,000 pounds of food. That’s without the teams that were coming to play considered, which is amazing to consider.
To open up the festivities, we had a VIP game. There was no shortage of interesting faces joining in the festivities. For those who wanted to see how the pros do it, we had Nashville’s Vic Bartley and New Jersey’s Rod Pelley come out to play. If you wanted someone who knows how to dominate in a different way on skates, silver medalist figure skater Kevin Reynolds threw on his SOCHI 14 jersey and grabbed a stick. Even Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson made his usual cameo, looking as sharp on the court as possible.
This was just one of a ton of games being played, however. The Boys and Girls club took a court to themselves for a few hours. London Drugs and Nature’s Harvest faced off in one of the greatest ball hockey games we’ve ever seen. The FHFF team took on members of the media and blogosphere. Registered teams took each other on. Individuals and even people off the street mixed into the action.
Then you had Mining For Food. Six teams, all of which either part of or supporting the mining industry, took each other on for the second year running. This time around, the TD crew ran away with the results, but the important thing is that they all piled on the donations, contributing just under 21,000 pounds to the total. Also, they sent along BC Mining’s Buddy The Miner to be a part of the festivities, which is always fun.
Things just kept getting better as the day progressed. Tangerine made a splash with a $1000 donation to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. Nature’s Path sent out a giant granola bar to dance and walk around handing out normal sized bars to people. People tested their strength as the radar gun came out. Sick goals were scored, even when goalies were briefly replaced by goal posts. Everyone appeared to have the time of their lives for the six hours we were outside for. Unfortunately, the clock had to eventually hit 6PM, which brought the event to a close.
Travelling across any country is an experience that you never forget. Especially one as vast and unique as Canada. A couple of hours is all you need to see a shift in culture, but in the end, you learn that for the most part, we as people core similarities where it matters most. Though we worry about ourselves from time to time, when it matters, we’re there to lend a helping hand to those who need it. Though we take things a little too seriously, we’re occasionally able to step back and have some fun.
In this tour, we aimed to take these traits to the people of Canada over the past eight thousand kilometres. The reality is, we didn’t do that. Every single person involved, whether they donated, helped organize, followed along, sponsored, or played, already had it in them. At best, we were the providers of the infrastructure to bring it all together.
We wouldn’t want it any other way. Because of all of your efforts and contributions, we’ve now raised over a million pounds of food to date. It’s hard to so much as gain a mental image of that much food, but we’re there, and then some. You never want people to be in need, but while they are, there’s a certain satisfaction to making sure that we can help them to the best of our abilities. In an unorthodox way, with all of your help, we’ve found a means to do just that.
It’s going to be an interesting few days and weeks for the team. Some will rest. Some will evaluate. Some will look for ways to improve. Some will combine at least a couple of those concepts. But if there’s one thing we’ll all do, and that’s thank everybody for their efforts.
Hopefully, the next time we look to play hockey for food, you’ll still be there, ready to answer the call.