In memory of the inspiration behind the Elmira special hockey team, the Sun Rays, organizers hosted their second Raymond Dietrich Memorial Barbecue on Saturday at the Waterloo Rod and Gun Club.
“[Raymond Dietrich] had Down syndrome growing up, and he passed away a number of years ago,” said Will Jameson, Dietrich’s nephew. “He was a huge sports fan but just never had an avenue to play the game on the ice. He was able to play street hockey and that with his brothers but never played on a team or that type of thing. So that’s sort of the motivation why we brought the team to Woolwich, and there’s huge support in Elmira and Woolwich area for community living and all that already, so it just made sense. So the team was formed in his honour, hence the Sun Rays.”
The barbecue drew in some 200 attendees, compared to last years’ 86. It featured appetizers, pulled pork, chicken drumsticks, corn on the cob, raffle prizes, beer from Block 3 and Trail’s End breweries, and pies from Anna Mae’s. All of the proceeds raised from the event went towards the Sun Rays and the Elmira Association for Community Living.
“Not all of our funding this year is directed towards them,” said Greg Demeuleneare, event organizer. “Last year, all of our fundraising efforts were directed towards the [Sun Rays]. But this year, a portion is going to Elmira Community Living as well. So that’s our goal, is not just to affect one organization in the community but multiple and then into Waterloo maybe as well, after this. We wanted to do something in the community to support special needs people.”
The memorial barbecue last year was hosted at Jameson’s home.
“And we started a barbecue last year to raise funds for the team, and last year was a raving success,” said Jameson. “We were aiming for 60 people to attend the sit-down barbecue in my backyard and we ended up serving 86. So this year, we were fortunate enough to receive some support in the form of a new venue.”
“The Dietrich family was really inclusive at a time when other families weren’t inclusive,” added Demeuleneare. “And that’s the kind of the inspiration behind getting as many people included as possible in the community.”
Not only has the event grown, but the Sun Rays team has grown as well over the years. Initially, they began with seven players on the ice, and they are currently up to around 20.
“I would like to thank all of the sponsors we have,” said Demeuleneare. “It wouldn’t really be possible without them.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the Sun Rays can visit Woolwich Sun Rays.