Kids meet top athletes ahead of Sports Celebrity Dinner
Published Monday, April 1, 2019 4:46PM EDT
A long line formed, as kids from the Thames Valley Children’s Centre (TVCC) waited to meet former Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons.
"’I’ve had a lot of fortunate things happen in my career, so anytime I can give back I'm more than happy to do that,” says Gibbons, “If I can bring a smile to someone’s face, that's a good thing.”
Children with special needs lined up to meet Gibbons and other current and former athletes like NHL Hall of Famer Ray Bourque.
“I'm having a lot of fun,” says young Samuel Van Arnhem. “I didn't even keep track of who I met, because there is so many here.”
Among those excited to meet the head table guests was last year’s TVCC ambassador Jordyn Ferguson. The young girl was wearing a Natalie Spooner hockey jersey.
“I got to meet [Western Mustangs player] April Clark, it’s exciting because she's a women's hockey player.”
A major part of the dinner is the recognition of London’s elite high school athletes through the SPECTRA Award.
It’s given annually to one male and one female student in honour of former CFPL-TV Sportscaster Alex Kelman.
Earlier in the day, those students were interacting with the kids.
"It’s a lot of fun, love working with these kids,” says Holy Cross Catholic School student Connor Keogh, "They are having lots of fun here, and it’s an honour being nominated too.”
Chloe Shum of Saunders Secondary School was playing the bongos next to a young boy with Down syndrome.
“I think the interaction is really great. I’ve never been in an environment like this,” says Shum, “It’s as fun for me as it is for everyone else."
The head table guests had a chance to do a Q&A session with the SPECTRA nominees before the afternoon meet and greet.
Bourque says flying in for this event has been worthwhile, “It started with the high school kids who have a chance to win an award tonight, and it’s clear they are well on their way. Then to meet the younger kids and seeing where the money goes, it’s all been good.”
This is the 63rd year for this event, with money to going to the Thames Valley Children’s Centre, which serves over 8,000 children and families each year.