Last summer at an orphanage in Kenya, Africa, Christine Reimer made a promise. She promised that she would be a voice for the children at the orphanage back home in Canada. It was after that trip and after making that promise that Reimer had a thought – why not combine the game that she loves with a charity that she loves? The result is a fundraiser that will both support children in Kenya and play a role in boosting women’s hockey in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley: the Ladies Imani Hockey Marathon.
The orphanage Reimer and her family visited is operated by Imani Orphan Care Foundation, a charity that supports orphaned children in Kenya. Reimer’s trip to Kenya with her husband and her two daughters was something that she “never thought in a million years would ever happen.” But the journey to get there took some time.
“My husband and I came home from a vacation in Hawaii and we love to travel, and we’re thinking, where do we want to go next?” explained Reimer. “And we just thought nothing, no beach, is going to satisfy what we’re after and we just thought maybe it’s time to do a missions trip, where we go and actually spend our time and money and go help somebody else.”
The plan was to go on a trip to Haiti to help at an orphanage supported by her daughters’ school, but before leaving on the trip Reimer was unexpectedly diagnosed with breast cancer. “I was just in shock. I thought this is what we were supposed to be doing,” she said. “But anyways, two years later, finished the journey, had my surgery, finished the treatment and everything and we were invited to an Imani dinner.”
After attending the Imani charity dinner for a second year in a row in 2015, Reimer and her family knew that they wanted to get involved, and the next summer they found themselves at the Imani orphanage in Kenya.
Imani has held a yearly men’s hockey marathon to fundraise for the orphanage, and after Reimer’s husband attended it and raved about the experience, Reimer thought about holding one for women, an idea the founders of Imani were “ecstatic” about.
Reimer, who started playing hockey in 1999 when a family friend shared with her about how she was trying out the sport, also sees the Ladies Imani Hockey Marathon as an opportunity to do something good for women’s recreational hockey in the Fraser Valley, a region in southwest British Columbia. Throughout her playing years, Reimer has seen several women’s hockey leagues close down, and there are many cities in the area that have no playing options (besides drop-in hockey) for women. Reimer worries about the future of the currently existing leagues, particularly in regards to what the future holds for current female minor hockey players like her daughters.
“I know my eldest, her desire is to play hockey with her mom,” said Reimer. “I just want my daughters to be able to play some rec hockey, and I guess my concern is that the morale for women’s hockey is not so great out in the Fraser Valley.”
There are therefore two things Reimer wants to achieve at the Ladies Imani Hockey Marathon: “The first one, and that was my intention with the hockey aspect, is I want to build up the morale for women’s hockey out here in the Fraser Valley. And [secondly] obviously my heart going to Kenya … I’m very sensitive and passionate to the need there, not just with the kids there at the orphanage itself, but even as they leave the orphanage and go to boarding school and just what there future is there.”
Upon signing up for the Ladies Imani Hockey Marathon, players are provided with a package with suggestions for fundraising, as each player is asked to fundraise $500 for the Imani Orphan Care Foundation. Each player will also receive a package after registration containing a short summary about a child supported by Imani and at the event will wear a jersey with that child’s name on it.
“It’s going to be more meaningful as they play, that they realize the money that they’ve fundraised is going to help that child that they’re playing for on the ice,” said Reimer.
The event, which is on Saturday April 8th at Centre Ice in Abbotsford, will consist of eight 50 minute hockey games. Players will receive breakfast, lunch, dinner, and plenty of snacks and energy drinks throughout the event. The plan is to treat the players like superstars, to “make them feel special when they come through that door.”
To sign up for the Ladies Imani Hockey Marathon and/or to donate to one of the participating players, please visit http://www.imaniorphancare.com/imani-hockey-marathon/
Photos courtesy of Christine Reimer.