Shara and Sean McKinney had both been involved in sports as teens, and they wanted their kids to experience the same benefits of teamwork and camaraderie that they had.
But they couldn’t afford all the costs after Shara had to take time off work due to health issues.
Thanks to the support of an organization that believes “no kid should be left on the sidelines,” the McKinneys’ three children have all been able to take part in sports.
KidSport Abbotsford provides grants of up to $200 per child (18 years and under) to help cover registration/participation fees for those who qualify.
The chapter, one of 35 in B.C. and 175 across Canada, recently supported its 200th child.
The McKinneys heard about the program through a friend who had used it, and they applied.
Their oldest son, Conner, now 14, received funding for three of the four years he played football with the Abbotsford Falcons.
Their middle child, Justin, now 8, was also subsidized for football, and last spring he joined his sister Kennedy, 6, in gymnastics.
Shara said this introduction to the sport “really sparked something” in her daughter, who showed a natural talent for it.
Kennedy has continued her lessons, quickly moving through the levels. She even tried out for, and was accepted to, the competitive team for the Twisters Gymnastics Club.
Shara said without KidSport’s support, the family might not have discovered their daughter’s aptitude for gymnastics or her passion for it.
“You just don’t know where it’s going to take a child. There’s a little boy out there who’s going to be the next Wayne Gretzky,” she said.
The family no longer needs support from KidSport – Shara has gone back to work – but they hope to give back to the program.
“We know what it’s done to touch our family,” Shara said.
For more information about KidSport Abbotsford or to apply, visit kidsportabbotsford.ca or call 604-859-3134.
The organization also raises funds through the Chuck-a-Puck contest during some Abbotsford Heat hockey games. The dates are Nov. 30, Dec. 15, Jan. 19, Feb. 23, March 2 and April 14.