Grey Cup visits Lacombe in support of military families
Calgary Stampeders fans Marcel Vezina, Samantha Vezina and son Logan, 3, pose for a picture with the Grey Cup as it stopped at MEGlobal Athletic Park on the afternoon of Friday, Sept. 29. (Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe)
The CFL’s championship trophy doesn’t often tour, but it did make its rounds through Central Alberta Friday in support of the Calgary Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC).
Escorted by two military vehicles and a handful of soldiers based out of Edmonton, the cup visited the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame before stopping at MEGlobal Athletic Park in Lacombe en route to a wrap-up gala for the MFRC’s golf tournament fundraiser in Red Deer.
“We’re trying to initiate the education of what we need for our families of our soldiers. Even if the soldiers find themselves being deployed, their inspirations and support systems are back here,” said Jeff McWhinney, the keeper of the Grey Cup.
“This resource centre is exceptional and we need to breath a lot of air back into it.”
Involving the Grey Cup in the cause is a natural fit, he said, given the cup’s own link to the military.
League play was suspended during both the First World War and Second World War when players exchanged football gear for army fatigues.
“The league and the Hall of Fame knowing how many people are on that cup - 3,693 names - there’s a lot of players that ended up losing their lives. Not only were they on the gridiron being champions, they went and fought for their country,” he said.
“It’s such a great vehicle to assimilate the two things - our theatre of community and our theatre of war.”
MFRC Executive Director Gord Young said it was pretty special to have the CFL and Canadian Football Hall of Fame to team up with them.
“The Grey Cup’s never been on tour before or on loan for private events,” Young said. “It’s a pretty exciting thing. The kids who are seeing this today may never see it again. I hope people realize how special this is.”
The MFRC’s focus is to work with and support the families of soldiers, from financial aid to simply accessing resources such as daycare services. While the main offices are based in Calgary, it has now branched out to better provide support to those in Central Alberta, with a worker, Shannon Humphreys, stationed at the Cormack Armouries in Red Deer.
“We couldn’t get to Red Deer enough,” said Young.
“Now we have someone here in Red Deer. We want to make sure that everything that’s in the Red Deer community is available to them and if that means we have to sponsor them or subsidize things, we’ll do that.”
The Grey Cup was commissioned in 1909 by Canada’s then-Governor General Earl Grey who had hoped to donate it for Canada’s senior amateur hockey championship.
The Allan Cup was donated for that purpose, however, and Grey instead made the trophy available as the Canadian Dominion Football Championship title.