Fred Lee’s Social Network: Fishing for kids Tech| Social
BIG CATCH: Like most Canadians, Tina Chiao and her husband Lee McCormick are huge hockey fans. For Tina and Lee, they had aspirations of their son Andrew taking up Canada’s game. At the age of two, their eldest was diagnosed with autism. Devastated, they, like any parent, were determined to provide their son with all the opportunities of a regular childhood, including playing hockey, an interest Andrew expressed. Tina and Andrew saw his enthusiasm and potential; others just saw the extra effort required to include him.
Three years ago, the couple had an opportunity to enrol Andrew in the Canucks Autism Network (CAN) skating program. It was a breakthrough chance for him to thrive with the adapted coaching he needed. After developing his skills and confidence on the ice, Andrew joined the Vancouver Orcas, a hockey team for children and youth with autism. Thanks to CAN, Andrew and others were experiencing the excitement of hockey, and other sports, in a way that accommodates the unique needs of each participant, shared Chiao.
The couple recently told their family story at the Fishing for Kids Tournament, the biggest fishing derby in support of CAN. Forty anglers — each shelling out the $12,500 entry fee — participated in this year’s event at Brian Legge and Rick Grange’s Langara Island luxury lodge. Before anglers cast their lines in hopes of a $250,000 cash prize, they along with supporters kicked off the three-day tourney christening Paul Cheung’s new Deck at the Pacific Gateway Hotel.
Before heading to the northernmost tip of Haida Gwaii, Canucks owner and CAN founder Paolo Aquilini, also a parent of a child with autism, thanked guests for their support and participation at the Western-themed hoedown. Among this year’s fishing hopefuls: Canuck coach Travis Green, Canuck forward Sven Baertschi and last year’s champ, Tanya Mahe, the first female to win the tourney in a dozen years. This year it would be Canucks’ assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner who would reel in the biggest fish — a 30 lbs. Chinook — to earn top bragging rights.
Tradition once again saw Baumgartner donate the first-place prize money back to charity. The gesture would help CAN snag an impressive $1 million to support more B.C. families living with autism.
“Andrew now has a passion he can share with his teammates and his family,” said Chiao. “Without CAN, Andrew would still be sitting behind the glass, or up in the stands, watching other children play a sport he so eagerly embraces.”
“This event is helping families with autism — families like mine — push the limits of the possible,” says McCormick.
Over $7.3 million has been raised for Canucks Autism Network since the tournament’s inception in 2006. Funds directly support community-based programs for children with autism throughout the province. Over 16,000 children and youth have autism in B.C.; one in 68 Canadian children.
Feast of fields
BUILDING COMMUNITY: FarmFolk CityFolk presented its flagship fundraiser Feast of Fields, this year staged at the UBC Farm. For 25 years, the charitable non-profit has been promoting local sustainable agriculture through its annual food and drink event; with sister events held on Vancouver Island since 1995 and in the Okanagan since 2009, each year on a different farm.
Created by organic farmer and food activist Herb Barbolet, the aim of the growing event was to connect urbanites with farmers who grew their food.
Recently appointed executive director Anita Gregory, along with event manager Wendy Riches, greeted some 800 ticket holders who braved a torrential downpour — Vahattan’s first real dousing in weeks — to taste the best of B.C. from chefs, restaurants, vintners, brewers, distillers, farmers, fishers, ranchers and food artisans from the region and across the province. Donating their time and product, 70 vendors in all showcased their wares from ten tents pitched on the 24-hectare research farm. Between samples, supporters further supported the cause bidding on auction items in support of FarmFolk City Folk initiatives.
They include conducting seed trials to identify varieties that perform best in certain conditions and regions; helping fledgling farmers get their farms up and running; and teaching school kids about agriculture.
“FarmFolk CityFolk has a long tradition of cultivating innovative ideas to help solve some of today’s most challenging issues like food distribution, farmland conservation and the environmental impact of food waste,” said Riches.
“By bringing together farmers and chefs and engaging urban folks, we can really connect people to their food and food system,” adds Gregory.