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Respected charity has given thousands of children a chance to play sports

Community ProfileRespected charity has given thousands of children a chance to play sports

For over two decades, the Arnold Anderson Sports Fund (AASF) has been providing children in the community the opportunity to participate in sports who otherwise could not because of financial barriers.

In fact, the AASF has already helped over 4,900 children participate in various sports through grants covering registering fees.

Arnold Anderson, who was a celebrated sports broadcaster for CKPC in Brantford for over 50 years, requested a legacy fund set up to help children after his passing in 1999. His nephew and current AASF president, Brent Gordon, explains.

“[This] Fund was set up so that no child would be denied the opportunity to play sports, in our communities, including Brantford, Brant County and Sixth Nation because of finances. A Board of Directors was established [and] he got our own charitable designation after a number of years,” Gordon continued. “And we’re able to raise money so that we can protect that legacy. But who else would have realized that the need was in our community for something like this? 23 years later, we’ve spent over $1.2 million registering kids to give them the opportunity to get on a playing field and play this part of their choice.”

The late Walter Gretzky was an Ambassador for the Arnold Anderson Sports Fund for many years. He always said grace at the Annual AASF Charity Golf Classic. In his later years, the AASF would always arrange a ride and an escort for him to attend. Photo courtesy Arnold Anderson Sports Fund.

However, the effects have been ever-lasting with many children who benefitted from the fund’s help. Although the children and their family that the AASF help are anonymous, Gordon noted that they have received some testimonials from children, through the permission of their parents, that reflect the good that the AASF is doing.  

“We have gotten kids to come out and do a testimonial at our golf tournament, which really sets the tone to why we are here [and] why we’re raising money; so that these kids can have an opportunity to play sports, which they probably wouldn’t be able to afford to without our help,” explained Gordon. “I ran into a person that he had helped when she was a child at one of our fundraisers…she didn’t have any confidence in herself. She would not come out of her room very often. And she didn’t play well with other kids. We registered her to play soccer. And she went from being very antisocial to playing and getting on the field, playing soccer in high school [and] at university and then becoming a police officer.”

President Brent Gordon and Office Manager Sandra Gagne are pictured with NHL stars Adam Henrique and Brandon Montour at the inaugural Henrique Montour Golf Classic. Photo courtesy Arnold Anderson Sports Fund.

Sandra Gagne, who is the only full-time hired-staff at the AASF, has been helping and managing many initiatives as well as fundraisers like the Golf Tournament, explains its relationship with sports organizations in the community.

“We have an excellent relationship with pretty much every single sports organization within Brantford, the County of Brant and Six Nations. We work together very closely with them…and whenever there’s an application that comes in, I reach out to these organizations. We have community partners, local businesses, [and] foundations, and are constantly supporting at least one child every year, and [also] sponsoring our tournament or participating in our events that we have,” Gagne continued. “Ever since COVID so many more families have fallen into a low-income bracket and are working to get their way out of it but [they] need support in the meantime. And now we actually have people that were in the system that have grown up and now are giving back because we supported them when they were young.”

NHL stars Adam Henrique and Brandon Montour pose with the AASF signage. Photo courtesy Arnold Anderson Sports Fund.

As well, a key fundraising initiative has been the AASF annual golf tournaments.

“This was our 17th annual golf tournament (2023). It is a legacy tournament [and] there’s people that have been playing in it since the very beginning. And as time goes by, we get some new golfers come in,” said Gagne. “We have it at the Greens at Renton in Simcoe, Ontario and the money that we raise, literally almost all of it, goes to the children. We also have a silent auction, [and] all that money goes directly to our sponsor child funds. This latest tournament was our biggest one ever…and we raised over $60,000.”

The late Jane Anderson was an integral part of Arnold Anderson Sports Fund from its inception in 2000. Photo courtesy Arnold Anderson Sports Fund.

As well, the AASF counts on the donations of community partners, business and corporations. However, there are others in the community who have gone far and beyond.

“There was a fundraiser managed by a group of local guys [who] are in business or have retired. They decided to go on a fishing trip up in Kenora, Ontario. To qualify in going, [one] had to raise $1,500.  And then they had other categories including gold, silver, or bronze spots to raise funds. They raised over $200,000 and the Arnold Anderson Sports Fund was the recipient of $80,000,” Gordon said. “This was [headed] by a new AAFS board member who said he wanted to give back to our community.”

The Arnold Anderson Sports Fund team accepts a donation from Women Who Lead. Hayley Wickenheiser and Riley Garrett are also pictured. Photo courtesy Arnold Anderson Sports Fund.

Along with raising funds, Gordon notes the importance of others joining the AASF board and learning more about the AASF and how vital it is to the community.

“Our average age of our current board is over 65 years or older and eventually its time for somebody else to carry the torch. We’re now looking for board members that are able to help even though they’re working and they probably have families. But the commitment is to come to one meeting [and] helping raise money,” explained Gordon. “We would encourage people to think of us as a charity of choice…all the money that we raise [goes back] into our community [and] with corporate sponsorships, and assistance, we will be able to assure that there will be support for all kids in the community for years to come.”

The late Arnold Anderson, who was a champion of local sports and radio personality for over 50 years in Brantford, is pictured here with ‘the Great One’, Wayne Gretzky. Photo courtesy Arnold Anderson Sports Fund.

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