Jack McGee cheered for the underdog and the Kawartha Komets is the type of team he would have supported, says his widow.
That’s why Mary McGee decided to answer the special needs hockey team’s plea for a major sponsor. She has donated $10,000 in memory of Mr. McGee, founder of Jack McGee Chevrolet Cadillac, to help the fledging team.
“Jack always loved kids and always loved the underdog,” said Mary. “These are the kind of people who sometimes slip through the cracks. I thought this would be a perfect way to remember Jack and to help these people.”
Carol and David Fisher founded the Komets in 2009 to provide people with physical, emotional and/or neurodevelopmental challenges a social outlet through hockey. The team has grown from 12 to 45 players and has become a support network not only for the players but also parents.
The Fishers have tried to keep costs at a minimum to include as many players as possible. Often families with special needs children have extra expenses for medicine, therapy or alternative schooling or have only one parent working as caring for a special needs child can be a full-time commitment.
It’s been a challenge to keep the team operating financially, the Komets were facing a $2,600 shortfall for last season, and the Fishers made a plea in The Examiner last month for a sponsor.
When Mary McGee read the story it struck a chord.
“I’ve been trying to find something to do in memory of Jack and the right thing didn’t seem to come along,” she said. “I thought this sounded like a perfect fit.”
Jack and Mary moved to Peterborough from Toronto 50 years ago to establish the dealership. They were a struggling young couple who went heavily into debt to start the business, originally on the site of the current Peterborough Square before moving to Clonsilla Ave. They were married 52 years and raised a family in the area before Mr. McGee’s passing Aug. 16, 2009.
From those early struggles they built a thriving business and Mary says they’ve always tried to give back to a community which supported them.
“Jack was always interested in helping kids and sponsoring teams,” she said. “He was always there when someone needed a handout. I can't remember Jack saying ‘no.’ We usually do this anonymously, we have preferred to do it that way, the only reason I told the Fishers it was all right to mention it is because I wanted to do it in memory of Jack. He was a very special man to a lot of people.”
“It's just incredible they would want to do this,” said Carol Fisher. “That’s a lot of money. It's very generous of them.
“It frees us up from the pressure of having to fundraise,” she said. “Now we can focus our energies on going out to other communities and speaking to them about putting a team like this together. We are the only team in Eastern Ontario other than Ottawa. We'd also like to be able to focus our energy on attracting more females to the program and aboriginal children.”
David Fisher said the community has repeatedly stepped up to support the Komets.
“It shows the business community believes in what we’re doing,” he said.
In addition to assisting in operating costs, Carol Fisher said some of the money will assist families in accompanying their children to the Special Hockey International Tournament next March in Kitchener. The team will wear patches on their sweaters advertising the car dealership.
If the first year goes well, Mary said she could see this turning into an annual sponsorship “As long as there is the need and the team is functioning as well as it does. With the Fishers running it, I can’t see how it would not.”
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