USA Hockey Magazine

January 2018

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JANUARY 2018 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM // 17 V irlen Reyes was an overwhelmed 23-year-old far from her North Philadelphia home when panic set in. Working in a field in which she had little experience, she was in desperate need of reassurance, so she reached out to the one man she could count on to provide sage grandfatherly advice. That person was Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider. "I remember frantically calling him to ask what I should do," recalled Reyes, who grew up participating in the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation and is still involved to this day. "He said, 'Virlen, you have an amazing story. You, as much as all the other kids in [Snider Hockey], have a lot to offer. You guys are amazing and brilliant. Don't ever be bashful about sharing your story.'" The willingness of one of the most influen- tial people in hockey to make himself avail- able to help someone in need is one of many examples of the type of person Ed Snider was, and why the foundation that bears the name of the late Flyers owner is one of the most impactful philanthropic organizations in all of professional sports. Executing A Vision Back in 2005, Snider was wrestling with a vision of how to address the high school drop- out situation in Philadelphia, which current foundation President and CEO Scott Tharp described as "of epidemic proportions." That's when he used his connections and influence in the community to create a foun- dation with the goal of providing inner-city kids the opportunity to not only learn how to play hockey, but also become better students and people. "In the early years, we focused on adding supplemental educational services to our hockey experience that would help keep our kids on track for on-time graduation," Tharp recalled. Using hockey as a hook to attract kids, par- ticipation numbers and expectations for the foundation's potential began to grow. "Over the years, we've collected data that supports the fact that 99 percent of our kids graduate from high school on time," Tharp said. "Then, we realized that in today's society a high school diploma is not enough, and we started to set our sights even higher and have now partnered with colleges and universities." This partnership with select universities around the state of Pennsylvania is one of the biggest attractions the foundation has to offer, as high schoolers in the program have the chance to attend one of these state schools on a full scholarship, a luxury they likely wouldn't have otherwise. " We are able to tell our students as they enter the ninth grade that if they stay with us through high school graduation and make good enough grades to gain admission to one of our partnered colleges/universities, we're going to provide them with full four-year scholarships," Tharp said. This past October, it was announced that 25 participants in the foundation would receive full rides to Kutztown University, a resound- ing example of what's possible when someone is willing to lend a helping hand. Team Effort Any time a foundation is involved with a professional sports team, contributions of the athletes on the team are a vital part of the community outreach. Fortunately for Snider Hockey, there is no shortage of support among its current and former players. Shortly after joining the team in 2011, Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds heard about the LOVE Ed Snider's Vision Continues To Give Philadelphia Kids A Chance To Fly High Brotherly By Jason Kates PHOTOS BY Getty Images; Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation

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