Edmonton Oilers captain Ethan Moreau believes there’s more to life than going to the rink every day, scoring goals, and collecting a paycheque.
The Oiler veteran says he gets a sense of gratification in being able to help others and make a difference in someone’s life. And that’s why he and his family became the ambassadors of the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation back in the fall of 2008.
“Scoring a goal is great. At that moment it’s the most important thing and I take my job very seriously,” Moreau said. “But relationships with people, the way you make people feel and making an impact in your community is far more important than success in professional life.”
Moreau began his relationship with the Stollery a few seasons ago when he was plagued by injuries. He visited patients and made connections with families, which quickly evolved into a relationship with the foundation.
Moreau has seen the Stollery’s importance first-hand and he says Edmontonians are fortunate to have a facility of this quality and calibre in their own backyard.
“I think it’s a luxury that we have the Stollery right in the city, a luxury that most people don’t realize,” Moreau said. “Most people are fortunate that they don’t have to be there (in the hospital), and those that do realize how fortunate they are to not have to travel to another centre.”
Hilary Anaka, the communications officer at the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, works closely with Moreau and organizes visits, appearances, head shaves and special surprises for some of the biggest Oilers fans. She says it’s never a problem convincing Moreau to help the foundation.
“I sometimes take for granted how easy it is to get him to do something,” she said. “He’s always going above and beyond.”
Edmonton is known as The City of Champions so it comes as no surprise to Anaka that Moreau isn’t the only Oiler who volunteers his time at the Stollery — and hockey players aren’t the only professional athletes in the wings. Many Edmonton Eskimos help out, and even the Edmonton Rush do what they can in the limited time they’re in the city.
“The Rush team this year was great,” Anaka said. “For those guys it’s really tough because most of them don’t even live here, they just fly in for the games, but they made a point of making a visit before every game.”
For the children and the families they visit, it might be a half-hour when they can forget why they’re in the hospital in the first place. For the players, the visits mean just as much.
“It’s great because I’m able to bring joy in to their day and they’re able to bring joy into my day,” Moreau said.
“The kids are fun, they make me smile and laugh too. It’s therapeutic both ways.”