There are backyard rinks, and then there’s the backyard hockey rink Todd Churchill built at his Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s home.
It’s 95 feet by 46 feet (about one quarter the size of an NHL ice surface) and is complete with boards and ads, painted lines, nets, lighting and in-ice logos.
But what is bigger than the rink is the desire of Churchill and his wife, Kimberly, to raise money for charities associated with, or that support, research into the medical conditions their youngest son, Carter, is dealing with.
“My youngest son Carter was born on Feb. 8, 2011, and spent four weeks in the NICU at the Janeway due to numerous complications at birth,” Churchill states on his website www.reasonfortherink.com. The Churchill’s also have an older son named Hunter.
“While eventually overcoming all the problems known at the time and being released from the Janeway, Carter was diagnosed as profoundly deaf in May 2011 and later implanted with cochlear implants in December 2011, and then subsequently diagnosed with cerebral palsy in January 2012. He is truly a little fighter and has never lost his smile even with all he has been through.
“(We) are active in various fundraising efforts by local charities and non-profit organizations associated with or supporting us with Carter’s conditions such as Easter Seals NL and The Mazol Shriners. I am currently working on this new fundraiser that will benefit Easter Seals NL, Rainbow Riders — Therapeutic Riding Newfoundland and Labrador Inc., and Mazol Shriners.”
The rink project involves embedding logos of the charities in the rink ice, and displaying 36 professionally printed ads/logos on the rink’s boards.
“So far, I would estimate that I have spent approximately $8,500 of my own money to build the rink and have raised over $26,000 for my charities from corporate sponsorship of the ads and from private donations,” Churchill said. “None of that money was used to fund the rink construction and 100 per cent of it went to the charities.”
On Sunday afternoon, Jan. 20, 2013 at the rink, correctional officers at Her Majesty's Penitentiary in St. John’s challenged the Media All-Stars team in a charity game to raise money for the charities. About $1,700 was raised through the event.