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Leafs begin February Autism awareness campaign

Nelson Leafs recently stopped by Nelson Remedy’s RX on Baker Street to show off the Autism jerseys and snap a photo with owner Trevor Sawchuck. — Photo courtesy Nelson Leafs Hockey Club

The Nelson Leafs have proven to be a winner on the ice as the Heritage City franchise holds down top spot in the highly competitive Murdoch Division of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

Leafs management want to take that winning attitude off the ice by joining in the fight to raise Autism awareness during a campaign in February.

“The Nelson Leafs Hockey Team and the Society are proud to hold our second year of a month-long Autism Awareness campaign,” said Leafs vice-president Corey Viala. “All regular home games in the month of February the Leafs will be wearing a special autism jersey to bring that awareness to the NDCC for Leaf fans.”

The campaign officially kicked off Friday (February 1) as the Leafs travel to the East Kootenay for a pair of road games against Golden Rockets and Columbia Valley Rockies.

The idea was hatched last year when head coach Mario DiBella came to the board with an idea to raise Autism awareness. During the inaugural campaign in 2018, the Leafs franchise was able to raise more than $1,600 while at the same time bringing attention to Autism.

Fans will notice the campaign in high gear when Nelson plays its first of four remaining home games of the KIJHL regular season, Friday, February 8th against the Creston Valley Thunder Cats at 7 p.m. in the NDCC Arena. Nelson will showcase its special Autisum awareness jerseys, proudly sponsored by owner Trevor Sawchuck at Nelson Remedy’s RX.

“This campaign is to bring awareness to the West Kootenays about autism that occurs in 1 out 69 children in Canada,” said Corey Viala.

Autism is diagnosed based on difficulties with social communication and behavior, though there is significant variability among individuals that share the autism diagnosis.

Viala said as well as wearing special Autism jerseys, the hockey club will invite local groups who support programs that work with families and children who are dealing with kids who are on the autism spectrum at the games.

The NDCC concourse will be lined with information booths during the four regular season games in February.  

Hockey fans can make donations at these booths or support the Hockey Society bottle drive at the Nelson Leafs Bottle Depot on Saturday, February 23rd.

Eight games until post season

Nelson opens the month of February on the road for two games, Friday, in Golden and Saturday, in Invermere against Columbia Valley.

The Leafs travel to Beaver Valley and Grand Forks to conclude the road part of the schedule while hosting Creston, Fernie and Spokane Braves, twice.

The KIJHL playoffs begin the last week of February.