Helping Hand for Innisfail minor football

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Gridiron league receives $1,000 donation

INNISFAIL – This year has been an ongoing struggle for the Innisfail Minor Football Association (IMFA).

The gridiron league for kids was nearly forced to fold in early spring due to lack of coaches, players and volunteers. But the community rallied and the volunteer numbers increased.

And then over the past month the IMFA’s storage sea can was broken into three times, with vital equipment stolen – including nearly 40 footballs. But a helping hand came along – Dean Turnquist‘s Helping Hand Fund (HHF), created 22 years ago to ensure every kid had a chance to play sports.

“We really appreciate the work minor football does to give great opportunities for kids to play. It takes a lot of time and effort for those people who are involved, and so we just want to do our part to help out,” said Turnquist, who is the HHF chair and whose annual road hockey tournament has raised about $250,000 over the past 22 years for kids who simply wanted a chance to play their favourite sport.

On June 6 Turnquist and other HHF officials officially presented the IMFA with a $1,000 cheque, monies that will go to replacing the stolen footballs, as well as helping with advertising expenses and assisting kids from underprivileged families who can’t afford the league’s annual registration fee.

“This will definitely help us recoup some of the loss from the break-ins and all the balls that were stolen this year,” said Brian Thomas, president of IMFA, who added the community at-large has been a huge help to the league since March when the league was forced to hold an emergency meeting to decide its future.

“We have a lot more support than we had three months ago. The emergency meeting definitely helped,” said Thomas, who is also the coach for the atom level team. “We already have 25 players and lots are new players who weren’t here last year. If the numbers continue for August and September the way they normally do we might actually form two teams this year.”

In the meantime, Turnquist and HHF officials are pleased they were able to help, noting the organization has helped more than 100 individual kids, as well as the many non-profit sport organizations over the past 22 years.

“The timing is ideal for them, and for us too. While we haven’t necessarily donated to them, they were a group that was in need and we hope this money will help them continue,” said Turnquist, whose organization raised about $8,000 from its annual Spring Fever Road Hockey Tournament on May 5. “Football is just another organization in town that offers something for kids to learn from and to learn from different people, and make a more rounded out person. It’s good for the kids and it’s good for the community.”

The HHF is also available for any child whose family cannot afford to have to him or her play minor football this year. Parents can apply online for funding towards registration fees. The HHF will donate up to $250 per child, which is then paid directly to the organization.  For more information visit the website at  www.deanturnquist.ca

For more information on the IMFA visit its website at www.innisfailminorfootball.com

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Johnnie Bachusky

Johnnie Bachusky joined the Innisfail Province as editor in 2013. He covers Innisfail and Red Deer County news, police, crime and municipal politics. He is also a photographer and columnist.