The NHL’s award season continues to roll on, with the league handing out another piece of hardware on Wednesday night.
Kevin Hodgson has been selected as the winner of the 2021 Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award, given to “an individual who – through the sport of hockey – has positively impacted his or her community, culture, or society”. The winner was determined by an intense fan vote, along with votes from sponsor Mass Mutual, the NHL, and O’Ree himself.
Black Girl Hockey Club founder, Renee Hess, and Pittsburgh I.C.E. co-founder, Howard Smith were also nominated for the honor.
Hodgson, a native of Calgary, Alberta, is the Executive Director of HEROS, a non-profit organization that strives to empower at-risk youth through the game of hockey. Hodgson oversees the bevy of services that HEROS offers, most notably its extensive list of free hockey programs run by generous volunteers, and scholarship assistance to those who require it.
Since its founding in 2000, HEROS has helped nearly 10,000 children learn essential life skills through a hockey-based curriculum, with 28 programs operating in 12 different cities all across Canada.
For capturing this honor, Hodgson will receive a $25,000 prize from Mass Mutual, while runners-up Hess and Smith will receive $5,000 each.