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Wednesday, 01 June 2011 15:41

Fleury shares his story at KidSport event

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By Chris Jaster — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Swift Current residents were much more accepting of Theoren Fleury May 27 than they were the last time he was in the Credit Union i-plex.

Fleury, a former member of the Moose Jaw Warriors who was frequently taunted when his team visited the Broncos in the late 1980s, was warmly accepted by the approximately 370 attendees as the guest speaker for the 5th annual KidSport Charity Breakfast.

“It was always fun to come to this building. There was a lot of atmosphere and a lot of dislike for a guy who wore Number 9,” he said. “It’s funny, because between here and Regina were two pretty big rivals for us. Then when I got to Calgary, there was Vancouver and Edmonton. I think Swift Current and Regina prepared me for what would go on in the future.”

Since his days as a member of the Warriors, Fleury went on to play for the Calgary Flames — winning a Stanley Cup in 1989 — for 11 seasons before joining the Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks.

He also won an Olympic gold medal in hockey with Team Canada in 2002.

Despite all his success on the ice, Fleury was always haunted by demons off the ice. The 42-year-old was sexually abused as a teenager and started using drugs and alcohol. He eventually stopped being a user and he has not touched drugs or alcohol since Sept. 18, 2005.

Knowing the KidSport banquet would be an opportunity to let everyone in Swift Current know he’s okay now and he appreciates all the support he has received from them, Fleury decided to accept the opportunity to be the event’s keynote speaker.

“It’s just nice to stand up there and say I got my life together and everything is good,” said Fleury. “It was important that I came back here and showed the people a little bit about my journey and a little bit about the path I’ve been on.”

Fleury took the people who attended the breakfast through a whirlwind tour of his life starting with how his family had little money.

He said he never would have played hockey if not for organizations such as KidSport.

He left the audience with the message that the only way to succeed in life is to work hard and to give back to the community.

For Kevin Patenaude, the president of Swift Current’s KidSport organization, the message and speaker were absolutely perfect for his event.

“For me, that’s probably the best speaker I could actually think of to bring. When we had that opportunity it was a no-brainer,” said Patenaude, whose organization helped 147 Swift Current children participate in sports last year by providing $32,000 for registration costs.

Patenaude was impressed with how successful the event turned out to be this year.

The breakfast was pushing the i-plex’s conference room’s capacity, everybody seemed to enjoy the speaker and it was all in the name of benefiting children.

He believes the event was so successful he doesn’t know how to top it next year.

That, however, is a problem he is happy to have as long as KidSport is able to help local children participate in sports.

“We’d like to make sure we have a little bit of a cushion so we’ll never say no to a kid. We’ll keep the money (raised from fundraisers) in the bank for the kids and that’s what it’s there for,” he said. “The community has helped us so we have enough money so we know that no kid is going to sit on the sidelines.”

KidSport was formed in Swift Current in 1996. Since then, it has helped more than 1,800 children participate in sports.

Anyone who needs help to pay for their children’s registration costs in sporting events may seek KidSport’s help by contacting Patenaude at 306-778-4770 or by contacting any board member.

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