The ball may have dropped for the final time in the Jimmy Ng Memorial Street Hockey Tournament last Saturday, but its legacy of educating youth and the greater community on safer streets will continue, said organizers.
Since the event started 11 years ago to celebrate the life of Richmond RCMP Const. Jimmy Ng who was killed in 2002 when his cruiser was broad-sided by a street racer it has raised money and awareness about behaviours that put safety at risk, especially dangerous driving.
And it has had a profound impact.
Since Jimmys unfortunate death we have not had one death related to street racing in Richmond, said Sgt. Katherine Hansen, one of the organizers of the tournament that wrapped up May 25 at the Thomson Community Centre. We went from an average of three a year prior to 2002, to not one.
At the heart of the turnaround has been connecting with youth through the RCMPs DARE (Drug Awareness Resistance Education) program. The $130,000 raised through the hockey tournament over the past 11 years helped the program reach out to students in Grade 5.
It also provided a donation to the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue which named a boat after Ng. And scholarships were provided to youngsters who had volunteered their time to community service.
But it was the education through DARE about safe practises that has really hit home.
Youth were getting the message from the media, as well as the police. They were also getting it through sports from the teams in the hockey tournament, Hansen said. And I think collectively, our conscience was raised, and the community said enough. We just werent going to tolerate this type of behaviour any more.
Its a sentiment Bob Baziuk, another one of the hockey tournaments organizers shared.
Baziuk, General Manager of the Steveston Harbour Authority, said the loss of Ng and the effect he saw it have on his parents Chris and Therese Ng has always remained with him as a driving force to ensure the tournament continued in the spirit originally intended.
We had hoped that it would be an annual tournament, and it sort of materialized into that because the participants just loved the hockey, Baziuk said. We had moms, kids and fathers, and it was a really fun, community event. And lets face it, its Canada and people here love hockey.
But I realized, that oh my god, this isnt about raising money. It was more about victim impact. I saw it first-hand. This is about their (Chris and Therese Ngs) healing.
Sadly, Therese Ng passed away earlier this year and it was decided this would be the last year for the tournament.
You have a sense when somethings run its course, because its always been about Chris and Therese to a lot of us, Baziuk said. We lost her this year and it was time.
Through the years Baziuk said he saw the genuine delight the couple had attending the tournament honouring their son.
Those folks would come and they would just beam, he said. It was their day to celebrate their son. And they forged a lot of close friendships as well.
Those connections will live on, and so will the commitment to educating youth locally despite the discontinuation of the tournament.
It will continue. But we will have to look for new ways to raise money for the DARE program, Hansen said. This tournament was the primary fundraiser for it. Its done so much good, we will never let it go. Were teaching hundreds of kids every year. It will continue, absolutely.
To quantify it, if only one kid decided not to get behind the wheel of a car and race, drink and drive, or do drugs, then I think we can say its been a success, Baziuk added.
In an email from Chris Ng, he thanked all those involved with the hockey tournament over the years.
It was a good cause for the community, he wrote. The displays besides the playing courts the emergency vehicles, fire trucks, marine rescue boat and the ICBC crash car do bring out the awareness of road safety on land and water, the consequence of speeding and responders contribution. It was a total community effort (the older and younger ones) to make this memorial game successful.