Bill Comrie knows all about the positive impacts of sport.
The Edmonton native and founder of The Brick department stores recalls how he became involved in a sports equipment bank in his native city.
“Sports Central was a vision of Tiger Goldstick,” says Comrie, who now calls California home. “Tiger was a retired veteran hockey personality in Edmonton. He wanted to supply sports equipment to kids that couldn’t afford it. Tiger would drive around in parts of the city, spot kids playing hockey or another sport and, if he thought they were short a puck, stick, glove or ball, he would stop his car, go to his trunk and add to their supply.”
Comrie, at that point a successful business figure in Edmonton, quickly became involved in the program, which would be known as The Brick Sports Central. Comrie donated $650,000 over the course of 10 years to the program, which supplies gently used sports equipment to thousands of boys and girls whose families can’t afford the gear themselves.
“The program has impacted the families of Edmonton and northern Alberta substantially.,” he says. “The volunteers give so much back and are rewarded when they see mothers and fathers with tears in their eyes and a smile on their face looking at their son or daughter fully equipped.”
Recently, Sports Central expanded into Calgary, which is home to the latest equipment bank in Alberta. Comrie’s Sports Equipment Bank, located at 3557 52nd St. SE, has been open since August 2014 and has been working with local kids in Calgary who want to hit the ice. The program has started with hockey equipment but the goal is to acquire equipment for various other sports.
So far, more than 350 individual and groups of children in Calgary and area have benefitted from this new initiative.
Comrie has been instrumental in getting the program in Calgary launched. He has committed to donating $500,000 over the next five years to the equipment bank and hopes that additional donors continue to support the program, which Comrie hopes can be expanded to other Canadian cities.
“I grew up with lots of love in my family but we were challenged many times financially,” says Comrie. “At different times, I received hockey equipment at the local rink from the lost and found box. I believe hockey and all team sports teach us so much about life and business. I do not think I would have been able to grow my company without the experiences I had in the locker room and on the ice.”
Comrie is proud of the success of the two equipment banks in Alberta. He says the number of people in Calgary who have come together to get the program off the ground is incredible.
Al Coates, a senior advisor at Hockey Canada, put together a strong board of directors that includes representation from KidSport, Hockey Calgary, the Western Hockey League, Hockey Alberta, Sport Calgary, Hockey Canada and the Hockey Canada Foundation, and Walsh LLP. Further, the Calgary Flames Foundation has helped support the program.
For more information on Calgary’s equipment bank, visit http://www.comriessportsequipmentbank.org People who are interested in donating equipment or funds can contact Russell Gillespie at email@example.com
Parents who would like equipment for their children can contact Russell or connect with KidSport to fill out an application www.kidsport.ca/calgary or 403-202-0251