Is there a real # 1 out there for us? We will know by Monday. Want to help make it happen? Read on.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  March 22nd, 2013   There is an opportunity for the people of this city to bring home a “real” #1plus $100,000 that will go to the Burlington Lions Optimists Minor  Hockey Association – BLOMHA.

Have you heard of “Hockey Goes On” a promotion sponsored by Kraft Foods?  A number of years ago Kraft sponsored an event that resulted in Dundas,  Ontario getting a new arena.  The event was so strong a promotional vehicle for Kraft that they decided to revise it and build on the enthusiasm for “our game’.

Hockey Goes On is there to celebrate those unsung heroes that make the game go on. The sponsors divided the country into five divisions with Ontario being one of them.  People within each division were asked to nominate the person they felt had done the most for minor hockey in their community.

Kristen Priestner nominated John McNeil who manages the Burlington Atom A  BLOMHA rep hockey team that skate under the Bulldog banner.  Priestner’s son plays in that league.

Kraft got in touch with McNeil to ensure he would accept the nomination and onto the list he went.

The Kraft organization then took the thousands of names that were nominated and selected 20 for each division.  McNeil made the cut and Kraft once again called him to ensure that he was prepared for all the news coverage there would be.

McNeil was up to it.

The T-shirt tells it all. John McNeil wants everyone in this city to let 19 other communities in Ontario be aware of the Burlington Bulldogs – they are out there gunning for the $100,0000 that Kraft Foods wants to hand out to a minor hockey association.

Now McNeil doesn’t actually play hockey, he wishes he had,  but he missed that sport for the most part.  His job with BLOMHA, the Burlington Lions Optimists Minor Hockey Association is to handle everything “off  ice” as he puts it.  He has  coaches galore that he works with; his job is to ensure that everything comes together – which he apparently does so well that Priestner put his name forward.

Burlington was now about to see just how well McNeil hustles.  He plans to use all the old marketing skills he has along with everything social media will let him do.  Can McNeil pull it off?  Will the city get behind this initiative and pull in the $100,000 Kraft Foods is putting on the table?

First thing he did was get to the media; then he put out calls to all the other sports organizations in town and ask them to support McNeil and BLOMHA.

The prize is well worth the effort.  Kraft will donate $100,000 to BLOMHA which McNeil hopes gets used to cover the costs of the kids who can’t afford to play hockey – “it can get expensive” said McNeil.  Besides the $100,000 top prize there are four $20,000 prizes

CBC recently reported that the average family with kids in hockey spend $1,000 per child on fees and equipment.  For McNeil getting those kids whose families just can’t afford that amount – this is a big deal.  He would like to see some of the money spent on upgrading equipment the organization already has and then spend money on upgrading the skills of  both the coaches and the players.

If you’re within five feet of John McNeil he will put one of these flyers in your hands and badger you to log into the Hockey Goes On web site and be part of the effort to bring $100,000 to BLOMHA

Flyers have gone out to anyone who will pass them out.  McNeil asked the Mayor to mention the event on his blog.  Teams of kids will be at the BLOMHA offices on Saturday working the computers and voting as often as they can.  “We want them there in two-hour shift” said McNeil.  There will be all the pizza they can eat.

McNeil realizes that the other communities will be doing exactly the same thing – looking for every possible angle to get anyone and everyone logging in and voting  – and voting – and voting.

Burlington is up against Stittsville, Goderich, Atikokan, Barrie, Renfrew, Verona, Sarnia, Weston, Langton, Moose Factory, Kitchener, Prescott, Napanee, Pelham, Amherstview, Lakefield, Cornwall, Brampton and Fergus.

Some of those smaller town have great community spirit.  Is theirs greater than Burlington?  We will know sometime next week.

There is a website link to the story on the work he does with his team and minor hockey in Burlington This is where you vote.

This is what you are looking for on the voting web site. It will be red when you get to it on Saturday morning. Vote early and vote often – as often as you like.

In the upper right hand corner you will see a button – it will be red when the contest starts

So from 9am this Saturday,  March 23 to midnight Sunday,  March 24, you can vote as many times as you can. Help bring this funding to the kids. All it takes is clicks.

John McNeil is leading this push – he’s the guy they nominated so he is the guy Burlington wants to push over the top; it’s almost like dialing for dollars.

First thing Saturday morning you go to the web site – look for that red button in the upper right hand corner and click.

Log out and go back in and click again – and just keep on clicking.  There is no limit on how many times you can vote for McNeil.

John McNeil was described by Priestner as “the “Manager Extraordinaire” of the Major Atom A Burlington Bulldogs (BLOMHA) of the Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario. John is the heart and soul of our team and what he gives back to hockey you must see with your own eyes to believe! He is the epitome of a true sports fan. He lives, eats, and breathes Bulldogs!

“His level of organization is second to none. Parents new to the team this year will constantly question if he is “for real”. His weekly emails and reminders are full of detail. He maintains a phenomenal website with up to date stats, team summaries and also takes fabulous photos to share. Tournaments are a thing of beauty with John’s attention to detail ensuring a fantastic experience for every family and never a worry.”

“Social events for the team are hosted at John’s place, the highlight being the Parents’ Christmas Social until the wee hours. Or, arranging a party bus for parents to attend a “Cupids for Cancer” fundraiser. John truly never misses a trick. A highlight for the boys came in the form of John McSanta, distributing some serious Bulldogs swag Christmas presents at a super fun team Christmas party.”

“His level of dedication is witnessed when he is the first to arrive at the rink to hang our team banners or the last to leave and clean up. He is a critical fundraiser for the team with contacts galore. In case he didn’t have enough responsibility, he is also organizing the illustrious Ontario Hockey Federation Playoffs which we are hosting this year.”

“I can’t honestly believe that John ever has time to do his day job, given that he seems to give every hour of his day to this team. When we won the Alliance provincials last year, John surprised the boys by setting up an NHL style dressing room with their names posted over their hooks and motivational signage. They were thrilled! He continuously goes beyond the call of duty and we appreciate the care and kindness he provides to our boys! John’s heart barks for the Bulldogs!”

That from one parent: Let’s see how loud Burlington can bark for McNeil.

That website link again.


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