Entering his fourth season with the Guelph Storm, Garrett McFadden wanted to make a difference.
Already well-known for his contributions in-and-around the rink, and the community right from his rookie campaign, McFadden — of no surprise to those who know him well — saw an opportunity to do more.
With that, the Kincardine, Ontario native loaned his name to a needed movement: McFadden’s Movement, a not-for-profit dedicated to the mental health of minor athletes and youth.
Officially launched in September 2016, McFadden spent the following seven months visiting with various minor hockey teams and local schools to share his own story, including his struggles on and off the ice throughout his career, while also discussing his personal introduction to mental illness through the loss of a close family friend, Wes Cameron.
Paired with the motivation to start and maintain the mental health conversation, McFadden was able to raise and present $3,000 each to Wes for Youth Online (the youth counselling service created in memory of Wes), and the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo-Wellington branch — McFadden’s way of giving back to the City of Guelph.
Two months later on May 10, 2017, McFadden was recognized by the Ontario Hockey League with the Dan Snyder Memorial Award as the OHL’s Humanitarian of the Year, becoming the first Storm player to earn the award.
“It’s obviously a big honour,” McFadden said of the recognition. “Dan Snyder is someone who I’ve known about my whole life and I grew up knowing the legacy he left in Owen Sound. I think just to be recognized under his name and obviously league-wide is a tremendous honour, and something I’m very thankful for.”
Becoming the first among a franchise however, for McFadden, is more about what’s to come, than what’s been done.
“When you speak about the legacy we have in Guelph, and all the community work that we do, I’m sure I won’t be the last one to win it in the coming years,” the Storm captain offered.
A legacy that McFadden has undoubtedly helped to shape.
“Garrett’s been a tremendous leader for our team,” Storm teammate Isaac Ratcliffe explained. “Even coming into my first year, he was a guy that I looked up to and a guy that I followed in his footsteps, not only in the room, but in the community as well. It really shows talking to fans or even on the ice, the way he addresses his teammates, the coaches, and other players, or whoever it is — he’s definitely a guy you want to be like.”
While for McFadden, it’s never been an example he believed to have set alone.
“Anyone amongst the Guelph Storm organization who have helped move things along, obviously my parents, friends and family… all have helped me a lot through this,” the defenseman said of those to thank. “Obviously my teammates too, they’ve been there and supported everything from the start.”
Also quick to recognize not only McFadden’s successes, but the list of those playing a role in his relentless contributions, is Kim and Dan McFadden, Garrett’s parents.
“We are so proud of Garrett’s accomplishments, both on and off the ice and are truly humbled that he’s been recognized as the OHL Humanitarian of the Year,” Kim offered of her son. “He has selflessly dedicated his time representing the Storm in the community and promoting McFadden’s Movement — a cause near and dear to our hearts.”
“As we watch him grow up during his time in Guelph, we are so very thankful for those who continue to help us raise such an amazing young man — inevitably, as parents, it’s all you hope for.”
Hoping to make a difference right from the start, there was never an expectation for anything more.
“It’s an honour to be recognized, but you want to be in the community to give back,” the overage OHL veteran explained. “You don’t do it for the recognition, you do it to help other people, and impact other people. I do it because it makes me feel good.”
As for what’s next? Not much has changed.
“Continue to do what I love to do,” McFadden said. “And help out as much as I can.”
The 2017-18 Season is proudly presented by RBC