The Melnyk sisters host the 17th annual Skate for Kids event

The Ottawa Senators continued a tradition started by their late owner, Eugene Melnyk, by hosting the 17th annual Skate for Kids program at the Canadian Tire Centre on Wednesday.

The program, which provides hockey gear, including skates, jerseys, and helmets, to underprivileged youth in the Ottawa region, was started by Melnyk when he first bought the team.

Melnyk’s daughters Anna and Olivia, who now own the Senators, were in town to personally hand out the gear to the kids.

“I just wanted to thank you for coming and we’re so happy to welcome you to the 17th annual Melnyk Skate,” said Olivia Melnyk.

“Today is all about having fun, putting our skates on and getting out there,” added Anna.

Players from the Ottawa Senators, as well as Santa Claus, joined in on the skate to spend time with the kids and sign autographs. For many of the children, it was their first time on an NHL rink.

“The kids are having a blast. It’s Christmas time and it’s just fun to be able to enjoy their enjoyment,” said Ottawa Senator Nick Holden. “I know that a lot of our guys have as much fun as the kids.”

“It just feels like so good skating here and just having fun,” said one child.

“First time I’ve ever being here, I remember my dad and me being up there watching a Sens game,” said Stephen Nestor, a Grade 5 student.

“It feels great because I’ve always sat up there and watched them. But it feels great to skate with them,” said Thomas Bell, also a Grade 5 student.

Since 2004, the Skate for Kids program has provided more than 1,500 helmets and skates to youth in the Ottawa region.

“This is incredible you know, for the opportunity to skate on an NHL rink,” said former Ottawa Senator Chris Neil. “And I know when I was a kid growing up, I never had that opportunity. So it’s it’s a cool experience.”

The program has become a beloved tradition for the Melnyk family and the Ottawa Senators organization.

“Just to be able to give back to some of the kids and try to leave a lasting impact is something special for not only myself but the rest of the group as well,” said Ottawa Senators captain Brady Tkachuk.

View original article here Source