Thursday, May 21, 2009

Learn 2 Skate Day 12: Tragedy and Legacy

Today was the last session of Learn 2 Skate for 2009. This was the most kids and most ambitious spring DinoMights has ever had. It is my opinion that not only have we served a beautiful group of urban kids, but we have successfully honored the legacies of both Greg Carroll and Kelly Phillips.

The official name of Learn 2 Skate is, Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate. Greg was our mites coach for six seasons. Long enough to see his first kids finish playing PeeWees and become high school hockey players. He was gentle, kind, creative, and most of all had the heart of a servant. he believed that every kid should have a great first experience in DinoMights. Each spring, Greg took time out of his busy schedule as an architect to volunteer at Learn 2 Skate. It was Greg that would sit down to breakfast at Key's Cafe, with John Foley and myself to talk about which Learn 2 Skate kids would make great DinoMights. He was always right! It was also Greg that had the idea of Mini-Mites as an improved way for Kindergarten through 2nd graders to begin playing hockey.

Greg passed away suddenly from a heart attack in September of 2007 at the age of 47. Many DinoMights children mourned at Greg's funeral. Greg was buried in his DinoMights jersey. Shortly thereafter the DinoMights Board declared that Learn 2 Skate would be officially named Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate to honor his legacy.

This year we were able to double the size of Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate adding Andersen Elementary as a new partner. The biggest obstacle to achieving this expansion would be people. We needed to be sure there would be enough people to help tie skates, give out smiles, and help up fallen kids. When I met with Dan Phillips, of the Kelly Phillips Foundation, and Eric Johnson, head varsity coach of the Minnetonka Girls Hockey Team, we found the right people.

Kelly Phillips had been one of those unique young people who could be both a positive leader and a respected friend. She was a National Honor Student at Minnetonka High School, a member of the hockey team, and an active member of her youth group at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church. She cared about people, especially the "underdogs," and she held service as a high value.

Tragically, she died from injuries sustained in a car crash during September of her senior year of high school . . . Only one day apart from the death of Greg Carroll.

Kelly's friends and family set up the Kelly Phillips Foundation to honor her legacy. They were looking for organizations that fit Kelly's life and character. They felt that DinoMights would be a good fit.

And so, the Kelly Phillips Foundation has been serving at Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate this year. We could not have done this project this year without our friends at the Kelly Phillips Foundation. And we could not have imagined a more profound way to heal from tragedy together as we honor the legacy of two very generous people.

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