For the past 29 years Michael Yelizarov has worked with VSB Maintenance and Construction. Less than a decade ago, Yelizarov lost his son Noah in an accident in Thailand. Since that tragedy, Yelizarov has honoured the memory of his son through the organization of the Noah Yelizarov Memorial Hockey Tournament.
Held at the Richmond Oval, Yelizarov says the tournament offers an opportunity to remember his son and his love of hockey while raising money for important causes. Supported by hockey players of all ages and skill levels (everyone from pee-wee players to NHL pros), the tournament has gradually grown over the years. When he first started organizing the tournament, Yelizarov was able to raise $2,200. This year, the tournament pulled in over $25,000.
This year, a sizable portion of this money will go to Blessings in a Backpack, a charity which seeks to provide struggling families with backpacks full of food over the weekend when the kids are unable to access school meal programs.
"A donation like this really is huge, really huge," says Susan Fox, founder of the Vancouver branch of Blessings in a Backpack. "This will allow the program to add 20 more kids over three years. That means 20 fewer kids will go hungry."
Fox's program currently operates in three schools, though she expects to double the number of schools she serves thanks in part to Yelizarov's donation.