Heartfelt Goals: Inside the Hockey Spares for Heart Fundraiser

Recreational hockey players are stepping up for a cause this February in support of Heart Month thanks to a great initiative from one of our CARHA Hockey members. They’re making a pledge to donate 25% (or more) of their spare money to the word-class University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

Paul Bodnoff, a lifelong hockey player, is a key figure on two boards for the University of Ottawa Heart Institute—the Foundation itself and the Alumni Association. His innovative fundraising idea, Hockey Spares for Heart, has gained momentum throughout the local hockey community, and we chatted with Paul to learn about the inspiration behind his impactful initiative.

Responses may have been edited for clarity and conciseness.

What inspired you to start the Hockey Spares for Heart fundraiser?

The connection germinated in my head driving home from hockey one day but with my Heart Institute hat on thinking of everyone who spares. If I’m not playing one game they bring in someone from the spares list who may pay $10-$15 and I know from the group that I play with, they collect about $500 on a monthly basis. So I asked the guy who runs our group if they’d be interested in donating 25% of the February spare money and he immediately was positive about the idea. He started sharing amongst other groups to see if it could be done virally and if the men and women who run these groups would consider just a portion of the money they collect from their spares and make it as a donation directly to the Heart Institute Foundation for Heart Month. Because I sit on the Board for the Foundation I spoke to the President of the Foundation and got a spectacular response to it.

Amazing how everybody has seen this for what it is and supported it. The only thing I regret is the idea for it didn’t come to me until a week before heart month was starting but it’s taken on a life of its own. Everyone has some sort of connection, one degree of separation, from someone affected. The visceral reaction by people when they hear it is so positive.

Can you tell us more about who you’re supporting and how the funds raised are used?

The money goes directly into the University of Ottawa Heart Institute Foundation, it’s the charitable arm of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute. It’s held within the confines but runs as a separate fundraising organization. It goes into their general funds, covering programs and other things related to the heart institute – ends up supporting research and everything that goes on in the Heart Institute.

What are your goals for the fundraiser?

The thing that has me excited by CARHA’ Hockey’s support as a national organization is the potential turn this from a local thing into a national one. Heart Month isn’t just an Ottawa Heart Institute initiative, Hearth Month is a Canadian-wide effort. So, with CARHA Hockey being supportive of it, and with more time to do things in time for next year’s Heart Month, I think the opportunity to turn this national is realistic.

How can people get involved or support the Hockey Spares for Heart initiative?

The best way is to spread the word through the various hockey groups you play in (full details available here). This is how it’s taken off so far and longterm this will be the best ways for the word to get out. Help and support by organizations like CARHA Hockey and the Foundation have the potential to make this bigger.


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