THUNDER BAY – For Stan Beardy, honouring the memory of his late son a decade after his tragic death is a vital cause.
With help from Lakehead University, Ontario Regional Chief Beardy and his family created the Daniel Beardy Award in 2012 to help students achieve their post-secondary educational goals.
“When Daniel was alive he had the right principles and he lived by those principles. One of those was to share whatever he had. He used to teach little kids how to be a goaltender,” Beardy said at a Friday morning ceremony at the university celebrating the award and marking 10 years since Daniel’s passing.
“I believe even in his passing it’s important I maintain his principle and legacy of sharing.”
Prior to his death, Daniel was a standout goaltender with the Fort William North Stars hockey club and had established himself as one of the top junior A netminders in the entire country.
He had a goal of playing collegiately in the United States while furthering his education.
The first recipient of the award was Trevor Gamache, a former member of the North Stars who carried his hockey dream to the Lakehead Thunderwolves squad.
He knew about Daniel even before receiving the award two years ago.
Gamache, who was not able to attend the ceremony, sent a letter detailing how much the award meant to him now that he is a university graduate and teacher with the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board.
“I quickly discovered Daniel’s tragic story through coaches and teammates who knew him much closer than I,” Gamache wrote. “It became inspiration in the locker room and supported our motto of ‘Do it now, as tomorrow may never come’.”
Daniel first became enamoured with the sport of hockey as a youngster in his home at Muskrat Dam First Nation, which did not have an area at the time. His father would clear off patches of ice so Daniel could start to learn to skate.
Beardy hopes the story of Daniel overcoming the lack of resources in the early stages of his hockey playing life can show others that obstacles can be overcome.
“It will keep the memory alive for us as a family but more importantly I feel it will be an inspiration to young people in general that if Daniel came from a small remote community and he ended up as the number two goalie in Junior A that if he can do it, there’s no reason you can’t do it too,” Beardy said.
“You don’t really know the impact it has had until you hear from somebody. It touched me to hear the impact it already has had on individuals out there.”
Brian Stevenson, university president and vice-chancellor, says the Daniel Beardy Memorial Award has a little extra significance behind it due to the life it commemorates and the inspiration that it has already brought to those who have been touched by it.
“What’s really important for us is to spread that ambition he had to other students to come to Lakehead University and study academically while they can pursue their athletic interests,” Stevenson said.
“This young man is inspiring many other students years later. For one of our hockey players from the Thunderwolves to feel the effect of the award so deeply tells me there is a real inspiration at the centre of this.”
Both Beardy and Stevenson each wrote a cheque of $750 put towards the fund, which awards $1,500 to a student every year. Gifts and contributions to awards can be made online.
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