Ben Gallacher’s hockey career included a checklist of accomplishments that
he dreamed of as a young kid growing up in Calgary.
Gallacher wore the Team Canada jersey twice, playing in two World Junior A
Challenges in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, the left-handed defenceman, who
played his minor hockey with the Glenlake Minor Hockey Association in
southwest Calgary, was selected in the fourth round, 93rd overall, by the
Florida Panthers in the NHL Entry Draft.
“Being drafted is a day I’ll never ever forget. It was surreal,” says
Gallacher. “It was unbelievable in the truest sense of the word, something
that you’ve been trying to cultivate since you were five years old and, to
hear your name called and put on the jersey and meet everyone and realize
that your dream is starting to become more of a goal and aspiration and
within reach, that was great.
“The moments leading up to that … I got to wear the Team Canada jersey
twice and those moments were some of my proudest as a hockey player.
Putting on the jersey and the chance to represent something that is much
greater than yourself, represents all of the people who have put that
jersey on before you and all of those who put it on after you, you’re
always going to be connected to.”
Gallacher looks back and realizes he was fortunate, not only to play the
game at such a high level but to play it at all. As a Glenlake Hawk,
Gallacher was coached by Gerry Pinder, who played for Canada’s National
Men’s Team at the 1968 Olympics and spent time with the Chicago Blackhawks
and California Golden Seals in the NHL, and Brian Skrudland, who is best
known for his time with the Montreal Canadiens but who also played with the
Panthers, Flames, Rangers and Stars as part of his 881 games in the world’s
Gallacher now gives back to the game as he wants more kids to get the
opportunities he did. He is part of the Cannonball Sport & Education
Fund, a family organization that also includes his brother Liam and mother
Earlier this year, Cannonball announced it would donate $1 million to the
Hockey Canada Foundation Assist Fund over five years to help the Assist
Fund provide hockey registration fee support for young Canadians who may
not have been able to return to the ice due to financial constraints
brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We feel like every young boy and girl should have the opportunity to put
on skates and see if they like it, knowing that most will,” Gallacher says.
“We feel like that opportunity is really important for that to be
equitable. That’s where we see the beautiful side of the Hockey Canada
Foundation trying to help hockey become more of an equitable game.”
He adds that sport has always been important to his family, with his mom
playing competitive tennis and now pickleball, his brother turning heads as
a volleyball player and golfer and, of course, Ben himself on the ice.
“We just saw the value of sport, comradery, having teammates, working on a
collective goal. Trying to create further youth participation in Canada was
really important for us,” says Gallacher.
That’s the sport side of Cannonball – but the organization does so much
more. Anderson, a lawyer by trade, grew up in a household where both of her
parents were teachers, which instilled in her the importance of education.
She has become a well-known entrepreneur and philanthropist in Calgary and,
in 2019, made a transformational donation to the Calgary Public Library
Foundation to support early childhood literacy.
It was one of the largest gifts in the CPL Foundation’s history and, in
recognition of the support, the CPL named the children’s area at the
Central Library the Jocelyn Louise Anderson Children’s Library in honour of
“Our mission is to help financially disadvantaged kids play sport and get
an education,” she says. “Education is important to me, as both my parents
were teachers and I believe education is the most important factor in helping someone lift themselves out of poverty, particularly girls. And
this is supported by data as well.”
“The first years of a child’s life as so crucial,” says Anderson. “I
believe in the value of childhood education and wanted to participate in
making this available to Calgary’s children to give them a strong start
toward a successful future.”
While much of Cannonball’s education work is focused on Calgary, the
foundation has touched the lives of Canadians from coast to coast to coast
and the partnership with the Assist Fund will help youth throughout the
country hit the ice and enjoy Canada’s game.
To donate to the Hockey Canada Foundation Assist Fund, CLICK HERE.