Abbotsford mom Shara McKinney has a budding Olympic gymnast on her hands thanks to an organization that wants all kids to have the opportunity to experience the benefits of organized sports.
McKinney, who has two sons and a daughter, was able to enroll her children in sports programs last year with the help of KidSport Abbotsford, which works to ensure kids aren't left on sidelines for economic reasons.
She and her husband Sean hit a financial rough patch last year after McKinney couldn't work after undergoing two surgeries in the last few years.
But the pair wanted to ensure that their three kids still had the opportunity to be involved in organized sports despite their cash crunch.
"My husband and I personally didn't have that opportunity growing up, so its precious to us to have the kids involved in activities outside of the home and school," McKinney.
With the help of KidSport, McKinney's sons, Conner and Justin, were able to play football and her daughter Kennedy got her start in gymnastics.
"KidsSport was huge," said McKinney.
"It kept our kids grounded. There's so many things out there that kids get into trouble with, but sports teaches them things like teamwork, respect and obedience to authority."
While McKinney's sons are taking a break from football, six-year-old Kennedy has become obsessed with gymnastics.
And she's shown so much commitment and talent in the short time she's been practising the sport, she's been invited to join Twisters competitive program.
"She talks about going to the Olympics," said McKinney.
"You don't know what a [sports] program can do for a child. It could help another little boy become the next Wayne Gretzky; you just don't know where it could lead too."
Now that McKinney's health has improved and she's working again, the family can afford at the moment to pay for Kennedy's gymnastic fees on their own.
But they are grateful for the boost they got from KidSport when things were tight, McKinney said.
"We're happy to be in a place where we might not have to apply [for help]," she said.
"Maybe we can even start giving to the program as our finances improve. That would be awesome."
- KidSport Abbotsford is a local chapter of Kidsport BC, a community driven funding program that provides registration grants for children aged six to 18 so that they can participate in sports and develop healthy habits that last a lifetime, and get mentorship and guidance from coaches: kidsportabbotsford.ca.
Kidsport Abbotsford, the Abbotsford Heat and Honda Way are teaming up for the Chuck-a-Puck event during select Heat home games.
Come out and support KidSport Abbotsford by purchasing Chuck-a-Pucks during one of the following Heat games:
- Nov. 30 vs Hamilton
- Dec. 15 vs Texas
- Jan. 19 vs Milwaukee
- Feb. 23 vs Charlotte
- March 2 vs Houston
- April 14 vs Toronto
Last year Chuck-a-Pucks raised almost $6,000 for KidSport Abbotsford.