It was a night seven-year-old Wade Patterson-Grigsby won't soon forget.
He was praised and cheered in front of an arena full of hockey fans for his fundraising efforts. Following that he dropped the puck at the start of an OHL game between his favourite team the Guelph Storm and the Oshawa Generals. Then, he watched the game with friends and family from the Sleeman box with all the food, drinks and treats they could eat.
“We got to sit in the booth with John Sleeman, the owner of Benmet Steel and two of the guys from the Elora Legion,” said Wade’s father Rain Grigsby. “It is quite the view from there, right at centre ice.”
Wade was invited to join John Sleeman and representatives from the Royal Canadian Legions of Elora and Cooksville to show their appreciation for his work and the work of his fellow students at Westwood Public School collecting aluminum can tabs for the Sleeman’s Pick Up the Tab campaign.
“He was a great spokesperson for the tab collection at school,” said Sue Keuhl, community relations associate for Sleeman Breweries. “His jug of tabs weighs 13 lbs and collectively his school will be bringing in 50 lbs of tabs.”
The Pick Up the Tab campaign was done in partnership with the Guelph Storm and Sleeman Breweries with all proceeds going to the Elora Legion Branch 229 Tabs For Wheelchairs program.
The program was started 30 years ago and has provided nearly 3,000 wheelchairs since then.
“John Sleeman and his whole family have been collecting tabs forever,” said Keuhl. “They have a relative who is physically challenged and feel passionately about recycling for the cause.”
They were happy to show Wade and his schoolmates their appreciation.
“Wade had a blast,”said Grigsby. “His little buddy, that was his first hockey game. ”
It was Rain Grigsby and Wade’s older sister Raynah Gonzales that started their family’s charitable hobby of collecting tabs in 2007.
“Raynah and I started it as a project when she was younger than Wade,” said Grigsby. “We didn’t really know what we were going to do with them until we had a jug set aside.”
The family was living in Michigan at the time.
“When I came back to Canada I started that five gallon jug and it just kept going and going,” said Grigsby. “Wade took over and it snowballed into all of this.”
Wade is in Grade 2 at Westwood Public School and when he heard that members of the school’s environmental club The Green Hornets were collecting tabs for the Pick Up the Tab campaign he brought in his collection.
He showed the five-gallon water-cooler jug full of tabs to his schoolmates during a school assembly and it inspired others to join his efforts.
“His whole school pulled together and brought in like 35 pounds,” said Grigsby. “It was incredible. It has been crazy the last couple of weeks.”
Some of Wade’s schoolmates and their parents delivered their collection in person Friday before the game at the Sleeman Centre.
Among them were Alyssa Di Lello and her mother Andrea as well as Donato DiBucchianico who delivered the tabs on behalf of his daughter Michela.
“Michela did all the work,” said DiBucchianico. “I am just delivering them for her.”
The total number of tabs collected from the schools and private donations was 187 lbs or 84.8 kilograms.