Dany Heatley NHL hockey jerseys make their way to Kenya

Ottawa Sun, December 2, 2010
Doug Hempstead

Dany Heatley is gone but not forgotten.

Believe it or not, there are children in this world willing to wear Heatley’s old number 15 Sens jersey — proud, in fact.

But you have to cross the world to find those children.

When the forward was about to bail on Ottawa in the summer of 2009, the Sports Experts store at Bayshore began a promotion — one they still honour.

It’s simple, bring in your Heatley Sens jersey and they’ll give you $50 off any other player jersey.

To date, the store has collected more than 250 of them — most of which have already been distributed to or through local charities. But, last week, there was still a pile of about 100 kicking around.

Sports Experts co-owner Mike Swartzack knew exactly what to do and called his partner Ted Horton.

Horton and wife Hanne Howard live between Ottawa and Nairobi, Kenya where they run a project for children.

They’ve been funding it through donations — all of which is explained at www.hannehowardfund.org.

The project consisting of about 125 kids age 2-20 has been run by the Ottawa couple for about 6 years. They provide full care including education, food and shelter.

Being that soccer is the number one pastime of the students — Ted and Hanne even fashioned a makeshift pitch — the students needed uniforms. And, seeing as NHL jerseys are highly sought after status symbols in many parts of Africa, Swartzack was correct in assuming Ted and Hanne would put them to good use.

Monday Horton flew off to Nairobi with the jerseys and has already sent back photos of the delighted students.

They won’t be given the jerseys outright — they’ll have to earn them.

“The kids really love the jerseys,” he said in an e-mail to the Sun. “They also know that they are theirs to win or lose. The message I gave them today is each one has a chance to own one of these — earn it by doing something special — improve your marks next term, do a good deed for someone less fortunate, give back, be a positive role model for younger kids in the project, be a winner. We will be watching.”

Click the play button to hear an interview on CBC Radio, December 2 2010

Interviewer: Oona Woods, Associate Producer, CBC Ottawa Morning

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