VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Vancouver Canucks’ Stanley Cup playoff run may have already come to an end, but a charity drive by some of the team’s fans just keeps “goating and goating.”
It started when Langley, B.C., university student Joel Nagtegaal and a group of roller-hockey buddies were trying to figure out how to mark each Canucks playoff win.
“Because of our playoff goatees and playoff beards, somehow playoff goatee turned into playoff goat,” the surprised-by-all-the-attention Nagtegaal said.
“I don’t know how it happened. Maybe it was the postgame brewskis that we were having.”
Inebriation ignored, Nagtegaal and his friends decided to press on with the idea. Instead of growing facial hair, as legions of hockey fans do when the playoffs roll around, the guys vowed to donate goats worth $25 each to a village in Kenya.
They hoped to donate 16 goats in all, since 16 playoff wins would make the Canucks Stanley Cup champions.
“I set up a Facebook group for just us to keep each other accountable and said let’s make sure we get our goats after each win,” he said.
“But I guess they told their friends and they told their friends and the Facebook group got up to 800 people.”
Nagtegaal then received an email from someone willing to create a website for the cause and goatcanucksgoat.com was born.
And now 875 goats are bound for Africa.
“It just really took off.”
Nagtegaal said just how far the idea has come really hit home for him when he received an email from someone in Kenya.
“Seeing them say how important it is and how much of a difference it makes in their life was probably the highlight for me,” he said.
Nagtegaal said the fact that goats are cheap, serve many purposes and multiply quickly makes them a vital asset.
While they’ve received emails from the other side of the world, there’s been no shortage of accolades for Nagtegaal and his friends closer to home.
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell sent the group an email this week.
“We commend you on your efforts to raise funds for the purchase of goats for needy Kenyan villages,” Campbell wrote.
“Your idea of tying the campaign to the number of playoff wins achieved by the Vancouver Canucks was novel and obviously caught the imagination of a lot of fans.”
Chris Zimmerman, president and chief executive officer of Canucks Sports and Entertainment, purchased six goats of his own.
“The passion and commitment Vancouver Canucks fans display never ceases to amaze us,” Zimmerman said.
“We recognize the importance of charitable acts and … initiatives like the Goat Canucks Goat campaign demonstrates that our fans share that sentiment.”
Those hoping to donate a goat can do so by clicking onto the group’s website.
The campaign is being handled in conjunction with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC), the development arm of the Christian Reformed Church.
Nagtegaal said he doesn’t quite know where the goat drive will go from here.
“I’ve gotten emails from a lot of Toronto fans. I guess it’s probably because they have nothing to cheer for,” he said.
“But probably 10 other teams have asked if it’s OK if they start this next year with their team when they get in the playoffs.”
And the 2010 Winter Olympics?
“Maybe for the Olympics, we were thinking ‘goat for the gold,’ maybe get a goat for every medal Canada gets.”
The sky seems to be the limit.
The Canucks swept the St. Louis Blues four games to zero in the first round of the National Hockey League playoffs. Vancouver was knocked off in the second round by the Chicago Blackhawks four games to two earlier this month.
The team has yet to win a Stanley Cup since entering the league in 1970.
Fans can only hope that some especially strong prayers emanating from Kenya make all the difference next season.
On the web: http://www.goatcanucksgoat.com