People have asked me why I chose the Boys and Girls Club as my charity for my ride. It was actually an easy choice. Over the last number of years, I have worked closely with the Boys and Girls Club in Ottawa, and have been very impressed with their focus on mentorship and leadership. This is something that really hit home with me. You see, I was lucky in my life to have had great mentors and leaders, and I took great pride in becoming a mentor and leader myself. I am proud to say that I was a captain or assistant captain on every team that I played for (all the way back to minor hockey), and I have tried to remain a leader in my community since I retired from the NHL.
I think sometimes people don’t put enough emphasis on the value of good leaders and mentors. If I had not come into contact with leaders like Bobby Clarke in Philadelphia, or Steve Yzerman in Detroit, I know I would not have become the player I was able to be. Seeing their focus, work ethic, and commitment every day really led me to take a hard look at how I was conducting myself, and look at what more I could be doing to improve my play.
But you do not have to be an NHL player to have that kind of effect on young people. You can be that mentor, that leader, that person that makes a difference in someone’s life. It can be as simple as taking an interest in a young person’s life, helping them to accomplish a goal they have set out for themselves, or being a sounding board for them when they need to talk something through. Not much to ask, and the benefit can be so great.