Friday, December 19, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different...

One of the more annoying things about writing a marginally successful blog is that I get a ton of unsolicited junk emails, most from someone asking me to link them. In addition to being off-topic - no, I do not want to link to your bowling blog - they're usually misspelled and poorly written. So it was with some trepidation that I began reading an email I received a couple of nights ago from someone I didn't know by the name of Adam Sherlip. But since the noun-verb agreement in the first few sentences was okay, I pushed on and well, I found a pretty nice email. Here's an excerpt:

As a former employee of the New York Islanders (handling digital marketing as well as amateur hockey development), I had the unique pleasure of traveling to China for youth hockey development with Angela Ruggerio - All-time leader in games played for Team USA, 3 time medalist, and all-around amazing woman - through the Islanders initiative Project Hope. Together, we worked to spread happiness and opportunities through ice hockey to kids that otherwise wouldn't have the resources, and I got to see first hand how the sport of hockey can transcend any borders and cultures, and become a language unto itself.

Adam and Angela. Click to enlarge the image and get a better look at those adorable faces.

I did some reading about Project Hope and it sounds pretty cool. It's an initiative begun by Charles Wang of the New York Islanders. The goal is to spread hockey to China while providing educational opportunities for kids and promoting cultural exchange between the East and the West. As mentioned in the above excerpt, Adam had the chance to travel to China recently and do some work with Project Hope. After returning home, Ruggerio emailed him about a village in Kashmir in India. An organization called Students' Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL) is working there and among other things has created a bio-sustainable, solar powered village in the Himalayas, organizes activities for local youth and provides services for locals in high school and college. Because of the popularity of hockey with nearby kids, they're looking for hockey volunteers. Kashmir is one of the few places in India where ice freezes but the village is mostly a rural area and hockey is an expensive sport to play even at a basic level. Having already seen how something as simple as hockey can become a tool for transcending borders and cultures, Adam is all ready to jump in and join up. The problem is that he needs to get to India as soon as possible because of the short winter there and is trying to raise funds - around $3,000 - to help pay for his travel and visa. Anything he raises in excess of that will be used to buy hockey equipment for the village and to pay for it being shipped there.

Anyone who has read my blog for even a short period of time knows that there are two things that are very near and dear to my heart: sports and kids. I spend a ridiculous amount of time blogging about hockey and my job entails working with kids who have very little chance of success in life and need a lot of help getting there. I was fortunate to grow up in an environment where I had tons of opportunities to play sports and all those cliches about kids learning life lessons through sports have become cliches because they're true. I learned a lot about myself and others through sports and when I look back over my life, some of the most wonderful people in my life have come to me through sports whether it was through playing them or blogging about them.

Adam and pals. (Click to enlarge.)

I know it's Christmas time and you've probably spent a lot of money already. But you've also probably spent a lot of it on things that will be forgotten and discarded by the time the snow melts around these parts. What's $5, $10, $20 more for something that might really make a long-term impact on the life of a child?

At the very least I would encourage you to check out Adam's website. He has lots of pictures from his previous trips, some blog entries and links to articles he's written about his experiences and why he wants to continue volunteering, an address where you can contact him for further info and a link where you can donate if you so choose.

Seriously, how cute is this picture? And how happy do those two guys look? (Click to enlarge.)

And yeah, I know he worked for the Islanders. Gross. But he went to school at UB so hey, go Bulls!

(Back to complaining about the Sabres after tonight's game, I'm sure.)

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