Tuesday, 30 April 2013

"We'll get you a seat. No, problem."

I saw several Edmonton Oiler games this season — and I want to say an extra special thanks to the staff at Rexall Place for helping me do so.
See, I have cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair. I used to get help to walk up two flights of stairs to the press box as an Edmonton Journal reporter.
Someone would graciously bring my wheelchair up the stairs for me.
But then 9/11 happened in New York. After that Northlands staff thought it might not be a good idea for me to sit in the press box.
I agree with them: if there was an evacuation, getting me down would be quite the issue.
We agreed for me to watch games from the wheelchair section. But there’s a small problem: I have a press pass — not a ticket for a spot in the wheelchair section.
But the kindness of others always made things so easy.
When I arrived the Oilers’ ticket office at Rexall Place called the Northlands staff when I was at the games.
Then, just after the puck was dropped, I check into the Northlands desk on the north side of Rexall Place.
A Northlands supervisor called all ushers at all four wheelchair sections to see if there’s any openings. Then the supervisor walked me over and makes sure I get settled.
Even when all four sections are full, Northlands staff asked people to slide over and help make room.
They always, always do.
It’s very kind.
But I am not the only one that benefits from this kindness. I know of many friends who are in wheelchairs are given tickets to games from other friends.
But those tickets are not in the wheelchair section. The Northlands staff seem to always make things happen.

And they need to know how much it is appreciated.
•No doubt Northlands staff will be doing much of the same tonight when the Edmonton Oil Kings and Calgary Hitmen tangle tonight. Game 7. Battle of Alberta. It doesn’t get much better than that.
•And since we are talking about Northlands staff: we are remember Guy Ouelette,  who passed away last away at age 82.  Several years ago Mr. Ouelette was an usher for Northlands with a regular post not too far from the Oiler dressing room.  I will never forgot his engaging smile, warm handshake whenever I saw him, with the same greeting: “Hello, Cam, my friend. How are you?”