Richmond charity hockey tournament expands its reach

In keeping with its mandate, the eighth annual Noah Yelizarov Memorial Hockey Tournament, on Aug. 19 at the Richmond oval, has introduced a new nonprofit organization to support Blessings in a Backpack.

Vancouver District 39 is spearheading this initiative, said the late Noahs father, Michael Yelizarov, about why the committee chose to fund Blessings in a Backpack.

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Susan Fox, the founder of the Vancouver branch of Blessings in a Backpack, is grateful for the financial support.

The Canadian-based food distribution charity provides backpacks filled with nutritious food for children in inner city elementary schools to take home on weekends.

Fox read about how many B.C. children were going to school hungry and she knew she had to act.

I found the program online and saw that it was now in Ontario so I made some phone calls and decided to bring it here to Vancouver, said Fox.

She, along with her husband Nathan Fox, personally committed $5,000 each year for five years to feed as many inner city children as they could. Along the way, individuals, friends and corporations have come on board with donations.

Fox started with 50 children. This fall, the program will feed 320 children at four schools.

Not long after losing their son Noah from electrocution in a tragic accident in Thailand in October 2004, the Yelizarovs turned their grief into action.

Given the generous and kind heart of their 18-year-old son, they knew Noah would have approved of the idea of a fundraiser that would benefit children.

Noah was a kid at heart himself and always eager to play hockey with the younger kids, said his father. Losing a child makes you want to do things for kids. I like the idea of helping kids that need help.

Thus, was born the Noah Yelizarov Memorial Hockey Tournament. To date, the fundraiser has raised more than $160,000, all of which benefited BC Childrens Hospital, Canuck Place and H.E.R.O.S.

Last year, more than 500 people took part in the fundraiser honouring Noah, which moved into its new home, the Richmond oval.

With the sponsorship of White Spot Triple Os, incredible auction items and a beverage garden with a professional DJ, this years tournament promises to be bigger and better.

The event happens Sunday, Aug. 19 at the Richmond oval. Games start at noon, as does the beverage garden (serving beer and wine). There will also be a dunk tank.

Silent auction items include a round trip Via Rail gold class to Jasper plus accommodations and breakfast for two (approximately $5,100), a three-night stay with breakfast included at Tofinos Long Beach Lodge (worth $1,000), a weekend use of a new 2012 BMW 5 Series sedan (worth $795), lots of other great trips, jewelry, restaurant gift certificates and much more.

For more information, visit www.noahmemorialhockey.ca. For more information about Blessings in a Backpack, visit http://blessingsinabackpack.ca.

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