Chance of Fleury in Minnesota

Former NHL star Theo Fleury will speak at Sauk Rapids-Rice High School on Nov. 23.

Former NHL star Theo Fleury is making his way to Sauk Rapids, Minn., this month to speak to the community after his help to ensure that two of the community’s girls got their chance to return to youth hockey.

It started, as tales of inspiration often do, with desire. In this case, it was a softball coach’s desire to see his daughter’s hockey teammate able to lace up her skates for the next youth hockey season. But hockey is not a sport done on the cheap. It costs serious bucks to pay for rink time and a lot of necessary safety equipment.

A comment made in passing by Michelle Trelfa, about how two of her daughters wouldn’t get on the ice due to financial constraints, left coach Brent Pakkala unsettled till late in the night. Enter Twitter and Fleury, a Stanley Cup and Olympic gold-medal winner.

Bothered by the fact that his daughter’s close friend and hockey teammate would have to sit out, Pakkala turned to Twitter. He sent a message to Fleury, his longtime hockey idol, asking if the former athlete had any idea how to raise money for two young girls to make it back on the ice.

“I threw out a random tweet to him, and to my surprise he answered me immediately,” Pakkala said on his website. “At best, I hoped for a website or a 1-800 number.”

Fleury, who scored 455 goals in 15 NHL seasons with the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks, retweeted what Pakkala said, and soon the help rolled in. After the girls’ hockey seasons were fully funded, Fleury wanted to keep the spirit of helping kids compete regardless of financial difficulty. So he offered to fly out to Minnesota on his own dime to talk to the community. Fleury and his two brothers were helped out with the finances of playing hockey when they were going to school in Russell, Manitoba.

Fleury will be speaking at the Sauk Rapids-Rice High School Performing Arts Center at 3 p.m. Nov. 23. Tickets for the event are $20, with all proceeds benefiting the Minnesota Youth Foundation.

For more information, call Hockey Zone MN at (320) 251-7012 or go to theofleurymnvisit.org.

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