An opportunity to give back

In order to succeed, perhaps one just needs an opportunity.

My childhood idol was Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. I wanted to be just like him and play in the NHL. But I have cerebral palsy, so there was no way that was going to happen. I had to find another way and that, for me, was writing.

Anyone with hopes of making the NHL must first play college or junior hockey. It was no different for me.

The late Pat Quinn, who was a part-owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, gave me a chance to join the team four seasons ago. But just because I became a writer, it didn't mean I wasn't going to have the mindset of a player like I did when I was a child.

When the opportunity was presented, I felt like a player many teams had passed on but, in the end, the Giants and Quinn saw something and opted to take a chance, so selected me in one of the later rounds of the WHL's bantam draft.

It's strange, I know, but that mindset hasn't changed one bit.

On the Giants' game days, I have my superstitions and pre-game and post-game routines that I follow. If my routines changes for a certain game, I don't feel right. Usually, though, it's beyond my control.

Also, I always have my backpack that was personally given to me by general manger Scott Bonner. The players wear sweaters on the ice with the logo on it. I use the backpack to symbolize a sweater.

Three seasons after starting with the Giants, I got another opportunity.

While still working for the Giants, I got the chance to cover the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks for the The Fourth Period. I will always remember, though, that if not for Quinn and other people believing in me along the way, I would be nowhere close to where I am.

So, I've always told myself, “Never turn down an opportunity to give back and to always help others archive their dreams if I could.”

Earlier this season, Charlie Canaan and Patrick Higgins, who both work on the camera operating teams for the Canucks, approached me about doing a mini-documentary.

They told me they saw my in the locker room interviewing forwards Alex Burrows and Kevin Bieksa after one of the games, and were interested in doing a story on my journey to the NHL.

It was going to be shown on the team's website, its social media accounts and Sportsnet Pacific.

I thought about it, because I didn't want to just release my story for the wrong reasons, like to get extra attention. That's not my style.

At the same time, I was honoured.

As well, Canaan and Higgins told me that their lifelong goal was to shoot sports documentaries, similar to ESPN's 'E60' or '30 for 30' series. After hearing that, there was no way I was going to reject the offer.

I did it for two reasons: to inspire others to follow their dreams and not listen to naysayers, and to help get Canaan and Higgins along the path toward reaching their dreams.

We began shooting on March 7, 2015 with the Giants playing host to the Everett Silvertips, a game Vancouver lost, 3-1.

Canaan and Higgins arrived at the team's front office around noon, with cameras and equipment in tow, to get footage they needed with me at a Giants home game.

But wait, there was more. They still needed footage of me at a Canucks home game.

That was done 12 days later, when the Columbus Blue Jackets visited, and left with a 6-2 victory.

After months and months of Higgins and Canaan's hard work, the mini-documentary was completed. It was released by the Canucks on their show that aired on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific on April 15.

A lot of people sent me messages saying that they missed it, though.

Not to fret.

The Canucks did a second release on May 5, this one on their website and social media accounts.

It instantly got a reaction, for which I'm extremely grateful. I tried to reach out to every single person who took the time to watch the video and send me a message.

I was overwhelmed.

CTV Vancouver had aired a video feature on me on Feb. 25 after I wrote an anti-bullying story following the Giants' Acceptance Day a week prior on the team website. I was baffled by the reaction that video received, and I felt the same way with the one the Canucks did.

Stories were written about the video, including one by Luke Fox of Sportsnet.ca and another by Rhianna Schmunk of The Huffington Post.

I'm extremely touched by everything. Thanks to everyone who took the time to watch the video and send me messages.

That being said, I truly hope that this mini-documentary will lead to Caanan and Higgins working on bigger ones in the future. The duo, along with the Canucks, deserve all the credit.

They were the ones who put in countless hours making the piece.

I was just doing my job . . . nothing else.