A seven-year-old boy from Rocky Mountain House who was the victim of a violent attack at a bus stop in late December is sharing a heartwarming message for the Airdrie Techmation Thunder hockey team.
The video which Joey Haskell and his mother, Trina Haskell, made for the local hockey team came after the Airdrie Techmation Thunder threw its support behind their fellow team from Rocky Mountain House, the Rocky Rams who started an anti-bullying initiative in Joey's name.
"Joey was pretty awestruck when he found out when I showed him the Facebook post from the Airdrie Thunder," Haskell said.
The altercation that occurred at the bus stop on December 21 left Joey with multiple serious injuries including broken bones. RCMP said that the 14-year-old who had attacked Joey had been charged with assault causing bodily. The youth, who can't be named as per the Youth Criminal Justice Act was released on conditions and will be appearing in the Alberta Court of Justice in Rocky Mountain House in February.
Trina Haskell said that a few weeks after the horrific incident, she and her children were at a local restaurant when a few members of the Rocky Rams recognized little Joey. Wendell Mason, the head Coach and Assistant General Manager of the Rams also happened to be there. He then reached out to Haskell about the possibility of the hockey community coming together for her son.
"He reached out to me and told me he would like to put together a hockey game to benefit Joey so that he knows that the community is rallying around him. He told me he's like him to come in and meet the players and drop the puck," she said. "I think when it started, nobody knew exactly how big it was going to get."
Indeed, Joey did get to drop the puck at a home game earlier this month, but Mason went beyond that. The Rocky Rams announced that they would be ordering pink warmup gear which they would wear in honour of Joey.
"It was a good opportunity for us to get on board and kickstart the national anti-bullying campaign a little bit earlier in our community by supporting with the pink shirt project," Mason said.
But the support from the community went far and wide with other hockey teams joining in, including the Airdrie's Techmation Thunder.
Supporting Joey Haskell who experienced a dark day & was bullied & sent to hospital on Dec. 21st due to injuries sustained: Airdrie Techmation Thunder creates awareness to STOP BULLYING! This initiative is from @Rocky_Rams that is fueling the awareness.— Airdrie Thunder (@AirdrieThunder) January 21, 2024
We got your back Joey! pic.twitter.com/ANsc2K9wp1
General Manager of the Airdrie Thunder, Shaun Guest, said that the sport of hockey isn't just about the game itself.
"I think that we have a good bunch of kids in our room and they were they were quite excited to throw those t-shirts on [Saturday] night," Guest said.
He added that it is not the first time hockey communities across Alberta and the country have rallied around a cause. It was just last year that the Rocky Rams rallied around Airdrie when 21-year-old Ryan Couling Memorial passed away.
"Rocky Mountain showed up with the RC stickers on the back of their helmets for our game These teams support each other in the league."
When asked what would Haskell say to not only the youth who bullied and attacked her son but all bullies, Haskell said that she had one question.
"I would say what happened to you? Children are a result of their environment. I would ask questions based on empathy; you're striking out for a reason, you're angry for a reason. Let's get to the root of that. Because until we get to the root of that we can't fix the problem," Haskell said. "The fact of the matter is that there will be another Joey and there will be another 14-year-old boy down the road. How do we help these kids?"
Though little Joey has not yet attended a game in Airdrie, his mother says that she plans to make the trip in mid-February.
Pink Shirt Day will be commemorated nationwide on Wednesday, February 28.
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