With an exceptional hockey career that has involved elite play at multiple levels, including on the international stage, Chelsea Purcell is an accomplished athlete. Balancing a love of the game with the advancement of her education, Purcell embodies the ambitious and empowering spirit of women in hockey. Always eager to find ways to bring betterment and help others in the community, such compassionate spirit also makes her a role model.
Among her efforts as a hockey humanitarian, Purcell has graciously donated her time to Hockey Helps the Homeless, akin to many of her peers that have also graced the ice in the CWHL. As a side note, Purcell was the first captain in the history of the Team Alberta/Calgary Inferno franchise. Her kindness and golden heart shone through once again in 2016, contributing to an exceptional initiative known as Photolympics TO.
In a collaborative effort that represented the true spirit of teamwork, Photolympics TO (TO is an abbreviation for Toronto) allowed Purcell to merge two of her interests, academics and hockey, while helping raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada. Purcell explains how the project’s origins,
“Photolympics TO was put on by a group of 8 girls in the Sport & Event Marketing Post Grad Program at George Brown College. We called ourselves Cloud 9 Entertainment. We had to put on an event that we planned in our first term and executed in the third term. We developed, organized and executed everything ourselves.”
Conceived as a photo scavenger hunt, Photolympics TO featured teams with a maximum of four participants per team, attempting to complete as many tasks as possible in a two-hour time span. Purcell and her group provided teams with a list of locations throughout downtown Toronto. Upon the discovery of a location, the group would take a selfie as evidence of successfully completing the task.
Each completed task was worth a certain amount of points. Adding a creative element included the fact that bonus points were awarded for certain tasks if the photos were posted on social media. The team that emerged with the most points was awarded four tickets to an NBA regular season contest which featured the Toronto Raptors basketball club.
Part of what made Photolympics TO such an important initiative for Purcell was the opportunity to recognize a fellow co-orgainzer, one that bravely battled and survived Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, discovering the diagnosis just weeks after her 21st birthday. In addition, it was a chance for Purcell to pay tribute to a dear friend who also shared Prairie hockey roots,
“We chose the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada because one of our members is a survivor. It is also close to me because I knew Mandi Schwartz who lost her battle and was a big face in women’s hockey out west.”
Part of the momentum leading into the event involved the participation of the women’s hockey community. Part of what makes this community so special is the admirable effort involved in serving as role models, a point of pride for Purcell.
Among the elements that made Purcell’s experience even more enjoyable was displayed through the dedication of her peers. Despite an unforeseen change in plans, Purcell’s ability to find a new group of participants aligning themselves with such a great cause exemplified the importance of giving back, while displaying that teamwork exists off the ice, an important aspect that strengthens the sense of sisterhood and friendship in the game.
“I believe it is very important for female hockey players to be a positive role model and set good examples by taking part in the community. Spooner originally was going to be our Athlete Celeb since she fit well having been in Amazing Race Canada. Spooner is really good at helping where she can and jumped on board right away.
We knew early on, with her strong start to the season, there was a high chance she would be up for MVP. So we decided to remove her from our promotional side and just try to promote the event on our own.
Luckily enough, Spooner isn’t the only female hockey player willing to give their time for the greater good of an amazing organization! Once we sadly found out Brampton was not going to Clarkson Cup, I was able to secure Birchard, Rattray and Edney.
They raced as our celeb team and helped promote through social media which was great! We also were able to get four Toronto Furies in the race which added up for some great competition. The two teams did not win but finished in a solid 2nd and 3rd place.”
Although there are no plans to turn Photolympics TO into an annual event, its intention symbolized the meaning of paying it forward and inspiring others to emulate such an achievement.
“Since the Photolympics TO took a lot of work, it would definitely be much easier the second time around. If we do go ahead and do it, I will definitely be promoting through the hockey girls.”
While Purcell’s efforts are part of a larger story in the compassionate and charitable aspect of her career, the result is an accumulation of fond memories, in which the chance to help improve the lives of others represents a gloriously filled energy and vitality that cannot be measured in wins and championships. Instead, it is composed in the hearts and minds of those who have benefited, finding admiration in her integrity and conviction.
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Image obtained from Facebook