Monday, March 7, 2011
Because being the most famous hockey dad wasn't enough...
Aside from having a famous and athletically talented son, Walter Gretzky lived a pretty normal life as an installer and repairman for Bell Canada. He retired from the company in 1991 after a near-fatal brain aneurysm destroyed his long-term memory. While Walter had been somewhat active in charities before his retirement, it wasn't until the early 1990s that he began to establish himself as a humanitarian legend. The Gretzkys had long been associated with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) since Wayne was a young hockey player. Eleven golf tournaments, organized by Walter, have raised more than $3-million. A number of celebrities and NHL players attend these tournaments that now offer more than 15 scholarships to visually impaired Canadians every year, providing funds for them to attend university.
The CNIB is not the only vision-related charity that Walter Gretzky works with. He is heavily involved with the Summer Computer Orientation Recreational Education (SCORE) program, an organization that helps blind students learn computer skills for future jobs. Thanks to Walter's involvement, the SCORE program has provided more than 500 jobs for visually impaired students. For all his charitable efforts, Walter Gretzky was given the Order of Canada, the highest civilian order for goodwill, in 2007.
It must have been hard for Walter Gretzky to live in the shadow of his son for the better part of the last 50 years. Other hockey parents may have sat back and lived off of the financial rewards and fame of their successful offspring. Walter, however, is not content to live freely off of his son's successes. Instead, he has made it his personal goal to improve the lives of others. Where Wayne Gretzky has had great affects on people on the ice, Walter's great contributions have truly benefited those outside the rink.