Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Kids score a special visit

Hockey stars visit rehab centre for children

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It was Hockey Morning In Winnipeg at the Rehabilitation Centre for Children Wednesday.

Kids facing a varying degree of challenges met some of their hockey heroes, posed for pictures and collected autographs.

Evan Heson was all smiles as Winnipeg Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian signed his T-shirt. (Heson later admitted his favourite player is Sidney Crosby.)

His mother, Connie, said Evan, who has spina bifida, a congenital disorder that involves the incomplete development of the spinal cord or its coverings, loves pretty much every sport but particularly hockey and sledge hockey.

"We didn't tell him about (the autograph event) until the morning because otherwise we'd never stop hearing about it," she said with a laugh.

She said the RCC has proven invaluable in supplying ankle and foot orthotics and braces for Evan, modifying his bicycle and answering questions about his condition.

It was obvious watching Bogosian that he has a soft spot in his heart for kids.

"A big part of my job is playing hockey, but another part is giving back and helping people that are in need. Sometimes that's just putting a smile on somebody's face to make their day brighter. All the guys (on the Jets) understand that with our job comes a great responsibility. It's not just to play hockey," he said.

Other players and alumni on hand included Jets legends Bobby Hull and Thomas Steen as well as Steen's son, Alex, who was born in Winnipeg and plays for the St. Louis Blues. He is president of the board of the Amadeus Steen Foundation, named in honour of his brother, who died from a heart ailment as an infant when Alex was six years old.

He said he was moved by the amount of support shown for the foundation by his fellow players and old-timers as well as by his hometown.

"We wanted to honour Amadeus and have his name live on. (The foundation) is very important to us as a family and our closet friends. To see how engaged people like Bobby and others are, that's the humbling part for me. That's where you get a little emotional about it," he said.

The meet-and-greet was just one event organized by the foundation this week. On Wednesday night, a celebrity auction was held where dozens of game-worn jerseys, game-used sticks and other memorabilia were raffled off to support the foundation's efforts to help local children in need.

More than 200 golfers will join dozens of hockey players at the seventh annual Amadeus Steen Foundation golf tournament at Glendale Golf & Country Club today, and a select few will participate in a two-day fishing trip with Hull, an avid angler, on Friday and Saturday.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 11, 2013 A5

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Updated on Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 12:10 PM CDT: adds video

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