12/22/2009 8:24:00 PM Kids get special 'boost' with visit to Tim's and Sundogs
Coyote Springs Elementary School kindergartner Donica Walters charms Sundogs hockey player Kyle Hood during a tour of Tim's Toyota Center sponsored by the Sundogs team and McWhite's North American Van Lines. TribPhoto/Sue Tone
Twenty girls and 20 boys had a chance to meet the Sundogs hockey team and get a behind-the-scenes look at Tim's Toyota Center this past week, thanks to the team and a corporate sponsor, McWhite's North American Van Lines.
"Some kids fall through the cracks. We asked the schools to pick out the ones that really need a boost this time of year," said Donna Lepordo. She and husband Ed own McWhite's and are ardent fans and sponsors. They attend every game, Donna said, and continue to follow the careers of former players.
Now in its fourth year, this event provides a thrill to children who may be facing the holidays for the first time after the death of a parent or sibling, or other family hardship.
"We nominate those who could use a special boost right now," said Prescott Valley Police Det. Jennifer Miller. "We began with 10 girls and 10 boys from Prescott Valley, then we branched out to include Prescott."
Miller said she wasn't sure about an expansion into the Chino Valley schools in the future.
The children received teddy bears (girls) or big moving trucks (boys), a Sundogs jersey, mini-megaphone, Whiz ring toy, and two tickets to an upcoming hockey game.
When the youngsters met up with the team in the locker room, most of them collected autographs from the players and mascot Burnie either on the toys or on their jerseys. Those who wanted, could try on helmets and gloves.
It was hard to tell who enjoyed themselves the most - the little kids or the big kids.
Player Steve Potvin teased one young boy, asking if he had his driver's license yet.
"No? Then I'm going to have to ask you for your truck back," Potvin said in jest.
Player Kyle Hood used a flattened empty toy truck box to make a ramp for a second-grade boy to drive his truck up onto.
Everyone appeared to enjoy the hour-long experience.
"The credit for the good feelings goes to the Sundogs organization, the players, and the McWhites," Miller said.