Sixth annual Neepawa Sports Dinner a success



(L to R:) Big Daddy Tazz, Jocelyne Larocque and Tim Hague Sr. Photo by Eoin Devereux

By Eoin Devereux

The Neepawa Banner

It was a true night of inspiration for those in attendance at the sixth annual Sports Dinner in Neepawa. The event, held on Saturday, Oct. 18, featured a pair of guest speakers; Tim Hague Sr, one half of the inaugural winners of the Amazing Race Canada, and Jocelyne Larocque, who was a member of the 2014 Canadian Women’s Olympic hockey team. 

Neepawa Leisure Services has organized the event since its inception. Department manager Amanda Novak said it has developed into an incredible way to raise money for local recreation organizations and assist in the development of recreation related capital projects.

“For this year, we’re splitting the proceeds between [ourselves and] Neepawa Minor Baseball,” said Novak. “And then, of course, my proceeds will go towards the continued development at the Flats. We’ve done a lot of work there already and now what we’d like to do is concrete that outdoor rink. Add some basketball courts and move the skateboard park down there, so that the area can be used all year round.”

Guest speaker Tim Hague Sr. shared his experiences with the capacity crowd on the Amazing Race, as well as his ongoing battle with Parkinson’s disease. He said the program has provided him wonderful opportunities to speak at events like the Sports Dinner and share a very important message of hope.

“One of the big things for people with Parkinson’s is physical activity,” said Hague “To be able to come out to an event like this where we’re celebrating recreation and sport is hugely important to me, both from a standpoint of people with Parkinson’s as well as for kids in the community in general. It’s one of the most important things we can be encouraging people to do is actually get out and be physically active.”

Jocelyne Larocque spoke of the trials and tribulations on her journey to make the Women’s Olympic hockey team during the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia. She noted nights like the Sports Dinner allow her a chance to motivate youth in the same way she was meeting the  players from previous Olympic teams.

“I was fortunate, when I was younger to meet Sami Jo Small and Jennifer Botterill and they were role models to me and the fact that I could be a role model to young girls is such an honour,” said Larocque. “I take a lot of pride in being able to share my stories, my experiences with young girls and just inspire them is an amazing feeling.”

Dave Clark was also singled out at the dinner, receiving the Neepawa sports person of the year award for his continued dedication to the sporting community. He said this was an unexpected honour.

“It’s very humbling to receive the award. I have such immense respect for so many of the previous winners,” said Clark. “It’s really not about the recognition. It’s just about a love for the community and finding some way to give back.”

Other highlights from the evening included comedian Big Daddy Tazz and the fundraising auction, which was able to generate some additional cash for the Leisure Services department and Neepawa Minor Ball.  The official numbers from the night should be finalized within the next few weeks.