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Skate will help young athletes

Exactly one year after the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics celebrated the best efforts of athletes from around the world, Port Coquitlam's Spirit Skate is reaching out to help young athletes here at home.

Exactly one year after the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics celebrated the best efforts of athletes from around the world, Port Coquitlam's Spirit Skate is reaching out to help young athletes here at home.

Sponsored by Canadian Tire's Jumpstart program, the free Sunday skate at the PoCo rec complex will collect donations of Canadian Tire Money to help local youth who otherwise might not have the opportunity to enrol in sports.

For example, Theodora Runtova of Port Moody emigrated from Bulgaria nearly two years ago with her 12-year-old son, Chris, an accomplished tennis player. Once here, however, the young family found that getting Chris the tennis coaching he needed to improve his game was prohibitively expensive compared to back home.

The Jumpstart program came to their rescue.

"He really, really loves tennis and [Jumpstart's] very helpful," Theodora Runtova told The Tri-City News. "Without their support, he wouldn't be able to do his sport."

Last year, Jumpstart raised more than $45,000, which helped 431 Tri-City kids between four and 18 years of age who, like Chris, otherwise wouldn't be able to play sports.

Across the province, the Canadian Tire-run organization raised more than $1.1 million to put 13,810 B.C. youth into sports in 2010.

This Sunday's free Spirit Skate at the Wilson Avenue rec centre runs from 12:45 to 4 p.m., and guests are encouraged to wear red and bring Canadian Tire Money to donate.

tcoyne@tricitynews.com