When a group of childhood friends entered university together nearly 40 years ago they had no way of knowing the positive impact they would have on their community. The Platinum Jets are a collection of friends who grew up together in the north end of Winnipeg. Two of its members, Kevin Saunders and Mike Cavell, described the groups beginnings as, “a group of young individuals who we were keenly aware of charitable causes. Whenever we were doing events we were always going to set aside a certain amount of the money raised for charitable giving. And that started at the very beginning when we were still in university.” In the early years those donations were whatever the group was able to raise, no matter how large or little that may have been. What started as a group of like-minded students turned into an initiative that has lasted nearly four decades and has donated over $2-million to charity.
The Platinum Jets have been sponsors of the HEROS Winnipeg chapter since its inception 10 years ago. In the early days of the chapter the Platinum Jets were a source of on-ice volunteers for the program. With their support the HEROS program was able to grow to what it is today, a flourishing chapter helping disadvantaged youth in the Winnipeg area. The impression the players left on the Jets during the early days still resonates with Kevin and Mike, “we had one kid who must have fallen down 250 times and each time he got back up with a smile on his face.” What stuck for both gentlemen during their hands-on time with the program was the kids and, “how much they enjoyed the support provided by the volunteers. As soon as you roll up your sleeves and get involved with them a bit they were really engaged.”
This year marked the 38th year the Platinum Jets Golf Tournament has taken place which is described as the day that, “white collars and blue collars go no collars for the day.” With many initial Platinum Jets members living all over North America, the core members make a yearly pilgrimage home to catch up with old friends and take part in the golf event. This year nearly 180 golfers attended the event which raised $125,000 in a single day. HEROS has been one of the fortunate recipients of funds raised from this event.
The Jets dedicated support of the program stems from their own internal mottos, North End Pride and Remembering where we came from. To the Jets members HEROS, “fits both of those mottos to a T.” What makes the program so special is “people caring about other people. You have dedicated individuals from the community who make time to make the program work, and if you can make a difference in one person or one life its reward enough.”
Supportive partners like the Platinum Jets allow us to reach boys and girls who need support and make positive impacts in their lives. Mike and Kevin both agree that they are looking forward to a future with HEROS, “we are very proud to support HEROS and its our privilege. As long as we are able to raise funds and are in existence we will continue to support them.” The feeling is certainly mutual and we are forever grateful for their support.