Be the change
First Posted: 11/24/2014
Shawn Myers of Nanticoke already has everything he could possibly ask for this holiday season. A loving wife. A healthy newborn daughter. A brand new job with Apple. The only gift he is asking for this Christmas is a donation made toward a project he developed to help his community thrive and steer today’s youth from idle time that could lead to poor decisions. Myers has launched a fundraising campaign to bring a hockey rink to NEPA and is asking for your support.
“At some point, everyone questions the meaning of life. They question the meaning of their life. Now that I’m a father, I believe that the meaning of life is leaving behind something to be remembered for,” Myers said.
The 26-year old is determined to carry on a legacy that will be remembered by his daughter, and the community, just as Myers’ mother did for him. Myers recalls his mother being involved with the community as far back as he can remember.
“She was always heavily involved with charity events and fundraisers. She was one of those, ‘What do you need me to do because I’ll do it’ type of people, whether it was cooking food for a charity event or collecting toys for Toys for Tots. Even when she got sick, she was still doing whatever she could to help the community,” Myers said.
His mother, Michelle, lost a fight with cancer in January, 2011.
Following the loss of his mother, Myers found strength to carry on by remembering six simple words.
“My mom used to tell me, ‘Be something you love and understand’. Whenever I would try to achieve a goal or struggle to figure out what I wanted to do in life, she would tell me that,” Myers said.
Prior to her passing, Myers asked his mother to write the phrasing on a piece of paper so he could have the quote tattooed on his chest in her handwriting.
“Now I am reminded every day to be a person I want to see in the world and always be something I am good at. After my mom passed, I knew one day I would stand by those words by doing something great for the world and make her proud,” Myers said.
As it turned out, Myers didn’t have to look far or wait long. While playing street hockey in the basketball court of Quality Hill Playground in Nanticoke, a pastime he participated in with his friends most of his life, an idea came to mind. There should be a hockey rink at Quality Hill Playground.
Instead of feeling discouraged by the hard work the project would require, including raising funds, maintaining unyielding determination and chasing down approval, Myers felt calmed by remembering the advice his mother preached. He wanted to see a hockey rink built and realized it was time to be the change he wanted to see in the world.
“My mother said I should be something I loved and I love hockey. Plus, I firmly believe that having a place for kids to play hockey for free would bring many advantages to the community. Our area has a deep interest in hockey. Wilkes-Barre is home to the AHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins and on the streets of NEPA you’ll see anything from Penguins’ gold, Flyers’ orange to Devils’ red. Unfortunately, the area lacks a place for kids to go play hockey without being charged just to skate or shoot around,” Myers said.
The hockey-enthusiast claims his concept for the rink can provide a great game of hockey free of charge as well as provide a stream of income to better the playground the rink will be housed in.
“There aren’t many options in this area to keep kids occupied and out of trouble in the area. I mean, yeah, there are two other rinks in the area. One is in Wright Township and the other is all the way in Hazleton. I have played in both and had a fun experience at both, but they charge. Having this rink could encourage young people to play hockey because they could play often for free and take advantage of the physical benefits, like improving coordination, flexibility, their reflexes and agility, but it can teach life skills that will improve the quality of people they grow up and become,” Myers said.
Life skills that many people in today’s generation are lacking according to Myers can be developed once his project reaches fruition.
“Hockey players learn from a young age and carry on well past their hockey playing careers to work as a team toward a common goal, develop strong communication and listening skills and to have respect for authority and rules. Not every player will become the next Sidney Crosby, but every player will benefit from being part of the game,” Myers said.
On the financial front, the desired Nanticoke rink promises to bring forth revenue from organized hockey leagues throughout the year, which will be put back in to the park for new attractions.
Nanticoke mayor Rich Wiaterowski feels the hockey attraction will help with local business.
“I admire Shawn’s determination and fully support his effort. His spirit reminds me of a younger version of myself. Nanticoke is a great city with great local businesses including shops and restaurants. Having a hockey rink could attract people from other parts of northeastern Pennsylvania to our town and they could be visiting our local businesses,” Wiaterowski said.
Myers also gained the support of Kenneth Gill, president of Quality Hill Playground Association. The representative of the privately owned non-profit playground said the park is always looking for new ways to improve the grounds and the neighborhood.
“Shawn and his friends would play street hockey here for years. In fact, they still do today. When he approached us with the idea of getting the hockey rink started we said we would support him completely. We believe in him and we believe in the popularity of hockey,” Gill said.
Myers budgeted the cost to total $100,000. The six-figure amount didn’t stop him from raising funds. Through fundraisers, Myers raised $1,095, but realizes he needs more help. He decided to look for support on GoFundMe. The personal fundraising website allows people to petition for money for anything from medical emergencies to travel expenses. Last month, a Texas college student named Jin created a profile to raise money for a plane ticket to visit her family in South Korea for Christmas. Within 22 hours of positing her request, 59 people saw her petition and donated $2,315 for her to afford a ticket home. When Boston University’s student-run newspaper, The Daily Free Press, was in jeopardy of losing the publication from a dive in advertising sales that left the paper with a massive debt, the aspiring journalists took to GoFundMe to raise $70,000. Thanks to 358 people who believed in the cause, the group exceeded expectations by raising $82,409 in 18 days and saving their publication.
“I know $100,000 seems like a lot of money to ask for, and it is, but I hope people will see the good that this project will do for the community and donate something,” Myers said.
Whether you’re a hockey fan or not, Myers hopes people will be inspired to be change they wish to see in the world by donating what they can and to ask themselves what they would like to change about the world. Then, go out and be that change.