WELLINGTON, PEI – Oct. 4, 2012 – “For many people, the Evangeline Recreation Centre represented the heart and soul of our community. So when the rink burned down, a part of us also went up in flames. So tonight, we just say to say, right from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for giving our heart and soul back to us!”
With those sentimental words, delivered during an appreciation banquet Sept. 28 in Wellington, Guy Arsenault, president of the Evangeline Recreation Commission, sincerely thanked all the private sponsors of the rink’s construction project.
The federal and provincial governments contributed their fair share to the project “but tonight, we especially want to express our heartfelt gratitude to the business community that helped us so much with the half million dollars that we had to raise ourselves,” he said. “It simply amazes us that you actually dipped into your profits so that our little community could have its rink back.”
About 100 representatives of these sponsors attended the lobster supper, held in their honor at Wellington Legion.
“It’s hard to believe we’ve already started our second season of operation in our new rink and that things are going so well for us, after that overwhelming fire that took our beloved rink away from us. It’s hard to erase those images of our rink burning to the ground that are engraved into our brains. During that period of time, it was hard to have hope that we would be able to replace this rink that we loved so much, that we literally grew up in,” said Arsenault.
Luckily, on the night of the fire, even though the residents of our community hadn’t yet wiped the tears from their eyes, they decided to immediately begin the steps to rebuild. And in a year and a half, we had our brand new rink.
This state-of-the-art facility is beautifully equipped with a fitness centre, five dressing rooms, an elevator, an upstairs suite, a canteen and bleacher seats for 365 people. Its regulation-size ice surface will allow the rink to host games from professional leagues.
The rink is home to eight minor hockey teams, a Junior B team and a couple of rec hockey teams, in addition to the numerous practices and activities held by Evangeline Figure Skating Club and classes held by Andrews’ Hockey School.
The centre also hosts several annual events of the Evangeline Area Agricultural Exhibition and Acadian Festival. In addition, this year, it also hosted the mega-show “Chanter la vie” presented by the Village des Sources and the provincial concert of the National Holiday of Acadians.
“We now have an amazing facility that suits a number of the community’s needs,” concluded the president.
Later in the evening, the sponsors had an opportunity to take in a guided tour of the new rink, located in Abram-Village.
CATHEDRAL OF DREAMS
The banquet’s guest speaker, Allan Andrews, president-founder-trainer of Andrews’ Hockey School, said the Evangeline region is an “unbelievable community” that possesses solid values. He said he was amazed to the community commitment that he has observed in the region over the last couple of years.
“Everything starts with a dream. What you dream will come true,” he said. “You didn’t just build an arena. You built a cathedral of dreams.”
Speaking of the importance of organized sports, Andrews said children learn to develop their system of values by playing hockey. They get a taste of adversity and they learn how to overcome difficulties, which makes them stronger. On a personal note, he says much of what he learned over the years was not learned at university but rather with the kids at hockey school.
The trainer, who has been working with children for about 50 years, can’t get over the conviction and courage of children. He knows a young fellow who continues to play hockey between his chemotherapy treatments, while another kid played very soon after receiving a liver transplant. Another fatherless boy raised $3,000 by himself to pay his registration fees.
Andrews mentioned he has had the opportunity to meet and work with a number of youth who showed enormous talent and who have gone on to professional hockey careers. Among those he named were Sydney Crosby and Brad Richards.
Even after all this time, what gives him the most pleasure in life is seeing little Atom players scampering on the ice “with a smile on their face and a dream in their heart”.
CUTLINE: Cedric Gallant, right, manager of Evangeline Recreation Centre, presents a gift to Allan Andrews, founder of Andrews Hockey School, the guest speaker at a banquet to thank corporate sponsors of the rink’s reconstruction project.
For more information:
Evangeline Recreation Commission