Ten years ago, Jim and Shana Perkins decided to launch a hockey program for kids and dependent adults with special needs in Ottawa. Their goal was to give these individuals the opportunity to get on the ice and to be part of a team; something most of them had never had the chance to experience before.
“Hockey is Canada’s favourite pastime,” says Jim. “These people were often at games cheering on their friends and siblings, but they didn’t have a chance to participate themselves – and we thought maybe something could be done about it.”
And do something they did. Jim and Shana started small with only three enthusiastic players and their families. But word spread, trust grew, and the Capital City Condors are now celebrating their 10th anniversary season with 102 players and five different teams, each operating at a
“We never realized the impact it would have on us, not just the kids and their families,” says Shana. “It is unbelievable to see the progress, to see faces light up when we pull out a jersey because most of these kids have never had a jersey before.”
“Every kid gets to choose their favourite number, because it’s the only jersey they may ever have, so sometimes we have five kids out there wearing #7 on the ice,” laughs Jim, referring to the jersey number worn by Ottawa Senators centre Kyle Turris, who serves as honourary captain of the Condors.
He adds that the kids and families are so grateful and so expressive about their gratitude. “I often tell people the more time we get to spend with these folks the better people they make us – their love meter goes to the top right off the bat. It looks just like a hockey program, but there’s something so much bigger going on beneath it,” Jim continues. “The social interaction is so important – it’s an environment which changes the players’ and families’ lives.”
For Jim and Shana, it’s vital that everyone goes home with a smile, regardless of their ability or disability. “Everybody celebrates a goal, even the opposite team,” notes Jim. “We’re committed to building into them a sense of belonging and accomplishment.”
The couple say they look back and can’t imagine what their lives would be like if they hadn’t started the organization. Luckily, because of Jim and Shana Perkins, the Capital City Condor family never has to wonder.