Nick Lees: Former Edmonton Oilers president, Patrick LaForge helps kick off the Salvation Army’s 2021 Red Kettle Campaign

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Edmonton and Calgary have had many great competitions over the years and we have the right man in place to lead a friendly 2021 Christmas tussle.

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“We joined together as a province as we sought to raise $600,000 last year for the Salvation Army’s Kettle Campaign,” says Patrick LaForge, the campaign’s northern chair.

“We jointly raised north of $500,000 leading up to Christmas last year, but Calgary raised more than Edmonton.”

Kettle funds support Salvation Army programs year-round and at Christmas, funds especially help with hot meal programs, toy hampers, school supplies, Christmas assistance for the needy, job search and many more endeavours.

“The last two years have been tough for many, but drop a toonie, loonie or 25 cents into a Salvation Army Red Kettle and you are part of Edmonton’s team and will be helping those in need,” says LaForge. “I know I will play my part.”

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Edmonton Oilers President and COO Patrick LaForge speaks to media at Rexall Place in Edmonton on January 21, 2013. Story by Jodie Sinnema. (Photo by Larry Wong/Edmonton Journal)
Edmonton Oilers President and COO Patrick LaForge speaks to media at Rexall Place in Edmonton on January 21, 2013. Story by Jodie Sinnema. (Photo by Larry Wong/Edmonton Journal) Photo by Larry Wong /Postmedia

He has already. The former Edmonton Oilers’ president has for the first time sought and gained permission for the campaign’s kettle volunteers to stand inside Rogers Place at hockey games.

“Between 15,000 to 17,000 hockey fans attend games and most are very generous people,” he says.

“Personally, I will volunteer at a Salvation Army Red Kettle at a local Costco outlet to encourage donations.”

But standby for more innovative ideas.

Remember LaForge, who now runs his own company specializing in business development strategies for small and medium-sized companies, has one of Edmonton’s best marketing minds.

Patrick LaForge, president of the Edmonton Oilers, exhults after shooting a ceremonial puck into the net on the plastic surface installed at Commonwealth Stadium for the press conference. A hockey rink was erected on the field at Commonwealth stadium to test conditions for the Heritage Classic NHL hockey event that will happen in Edmonton in November.
Patrick LaForge, president of the Edmonton Oilers, exhults after shooting a ceremonial puck into the net on the plastic surface installed at Commonwealth Stadium for the press conference. A hockey rink was erected on the field at Commonwealth stadium to test conditions for the Heritage Classic NHL hockey event that will happen in Edmonton in November. Photo by Chris Schwarz

He is the former Lac La Biche farm boy and NAIT business graduate who created the first NHL Hockey Heritage Classic in 2003.

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LaForge did so by calling Wayne Gretzky and Habs Hall of Famer Guy LaFleur and told each of them they had challenged the other to an outdoor hockey game.

Some 57,167 hockey fans braved a temperature of -19 on game day to watch retired players from both the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens face off at Commonwealth Stadium. It was followed by a regular Oilers-Habs game.

The crowd was double the previous NHL single game attendance record and don’t be surprised if LaForge steps up our Red Kettle drive this year.

“My inspiration and phenomenal appreciation for the Salvation Army comes from my late father, who fought with the Winnipeg Rifles during the entire Second World War,” he says.

“He was on the frontline in 1940 and went ashore on the Normandy beaches on D-Day in 1944.”

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He added: “My dad said he often slept on cold, wet ground and the Sally Ann was the only army that truly cared for its soldiers.

“The hot meals and drinks their volunteers brought to the men in trenches unquestionably picked up the spirits of battle-weary soldiers.”

Founded in the U.K. and coming to Canada in 1882, the Salvation Army is now the largest non-governmental direct provider of social services in the country, serving more than 2.1 million people each year in 400 communities across Canada and 130 countries around the world. Kettles are now out and will be spotted around town until Dec. 24.

Due to Covid-19 safety precautions, there will again be a virtual Hope in the City – Red Kettle kickoff event on Nov. 18 at noon, via Facebook and YouTube.

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Register online at SalvationArmy.ca/Alberta.

The guest speaker will be Mark Little, Suncor Energy’s CEO and president.

Go Edmonton Go!

Wes Bauman, the Edmonton firefighter who tried to set a world record for surviving in ice and had to end his recent attempt when ice began to break up and hurt his back.
Wes Bauman, the Edmonton firefighter who tried to set a world record for surviving in ice and had to end his recent attempt when ice began to break up and hurt his back. Photo by Nick Lees /Supplied

Never say never

Edmonton firefighter Wes Bauman had to abandon his recent attempt to set a new Guinness World Record by remaining in an ice bath for three hours.

“The ice shifted after an hour and became uncomfortable on my back, which began cramping up,” says Bauman, who was seeking to better his own world record of two-hours-and-45 minutes in ice.

“After 90 minutes I had to very seriously analyze my position and thought the last thing I wanted was to be carried out on a stretcher unable to speak.”

But Bauman says his record attempt at a recent beer festival is only a step along the way in helping science understand how the body can adjust to being exposed to freezing.

“I expect to try again in the Spring to hit the three-hour mark,” he says. “There will be lots of opportunities, but I must discuss any attempt with my team of five and sponsors and promoters.

“My team carries in ice for our tank, closely monitors me and cleans up later. The good news from this last try was that we did raise some funds for our firefighter’s muscular dystrophy children’s fund.”

Wes Bauman, the Edmonton firefighter who set a world record in 2020 for surviving in ice for 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Wes Bauman, the Edmonton firefighter who set a world record in 2020 for surviving in ice for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Photo by Nick Lees /Supplied

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