by Brett Hedges
The Lance – Sports Editor
Two semi-trucks carrying more than 65,000 bottles of water donated by the citizens of Windsor-Essex County and many generous local businesses made their way over to Flint, MI. this past weekend as part of the vastly successful Water For Flint initiative spurred by the Windsor Spitfires hockey club.
Spitfires coordinator of fan development Nathan Sellon said the organization called out to their loyal fan base before their home game against the Flint Firebirds at the WFCU Jan. 21 and by puck drop there had already been 20,000 bottles of water donated in an effort to aid what has been a disaster less than hour over the border from us. The Spitfires opened up a window of 48 hours and the Windsor-Essex community responded by pouring in donations that quickly eclipsed 60,000 bottles.
“For everyone in Windsor and Essex County to come together like they did in such a short amount of time is truly unbelievable,” Sellon said. “I’m not surprised by the response though, whenever we put a call to action to our season ticket holders and our corporate partners and our fans in general they always pull through. So this will definitely go a long ways to aid Flint. I know they were pretty excited on their end and were more than ready to unload the two trucks we sent over.”
The Leamington Flyers junior “B” hockey club had over 15 volunteers come to the WFCU Centre for the final push of cars who donated right up until the noon deadline Jan. 23. Sellon said the Flyers organization were a great help in wrapping and loading nearly 40 skids of water over the final hours and whole-heartedly thanked Abe Fehr, the owner of Uni-Fab in Leamington, who provided the transportation services to get the donation to Flint.
Windsor native William Kerr said he and his girlfriend decided to donate a few cases when he heard about it through local media and said the gesture was very generous but unfortunately still a small drop in the cup of a monumental problem.
“We’re just trying to help them out, it is the least we can do,” Kerr said. “It’s good for the Spitfires to put this together, it makes you humble to have clean drinking water. This tells everyone how generous we truly are down here.”
Rob Thoms is a billet parent for two Spitfire players and a sales manager for Uni-Fab and said he was proud to lend his time for such a good cause and couldn’t wait to see the response from the American side.
“It’s unfortunate what’s going on in Flint right now,” said Thoms said. “We’re fortunate enough to have a clean water source and most people take it for granted. They are falling on tough times right now so anything we can do to help out is a small sacrifice. The hockey community is pretty tight so to have the Spitfires jump on board and to have the Flyers and Uni-Fab help out along with the Windsor community, the response is remarkable.”
Zoran Filipovski from Z’s Auto Centre brought in a large skid on a trailer with a donation from a local Zehr’s Superstore on Manning and Tecumeh Rd. E. and said he brought in 60 cases himself at the game Jan. 23 before reaching out and asking local businesses for their support over the final two days.
“All I’m doing is donating my time and some transportation, it doesn’t take that much to make a big difference,” Filipovski said. “It’s good for us to show a little pride in a charitable manner like this and it will help a lot of people over there. People don’t have clean water but they’ll lots of soon because of us and we’ll keep doing it if we have to like good Canadians.”
Over 65,000 individual bottles, 40 pallets, and two semi-trucks full after a 48-hour span truly shows our city’s true colors and Sellon agreed.
“From start to finish it has been an awesome story of the town coming together,” Sellon said. “We can’t thank everybody enough, it has been unbelievable.”