Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that defenceman Garrett McFadden of the Guelph Storm is the 2016-17 recipient of the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy awarded annually to the OHL’s Humanitarian of the Year.
In September, 2016, the Storm captain introduced ‘McFadden’s Movement’; a mental health campaign that strives to change, help, and develop mental health among athletes.
“It’s an honour to win the Humanitarian of the Year award, and to be recognized under Dan Snyder’s name,” McFadden said. “I want to thank everyone from the Guelph Storm and Steph Coratti, as well as the Canadian Mental Health Association, Wes for Youth, and everyone else who has done anything to make this foundation possible. It’s been an amazing experience and I have got to meet a lot of special people who share the same goals of making mental health something that is talked about. It’s hard to take full credit for everything that McFadden’s Movement has become because so many people are involved in allowing me to help others who need it.”
Directly affected by the loss of a close family friend, Wes Cameron, to suicide in 2011, McFadden has drawn on his own challenges when connecting with youth. This season McFadden has been hosted by 15 different minor hockey teams and local schools highlighting the pressures of sport and the importance of talking about mental health and eliminating the stigma. McFadden’s Movement was designed and launched in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association with all youth presentations accompanied by a CMHA professional and paired with McFadden’s own SafeTalk training received through the league’s Talk Today initiative. The Movement has also included a strong awareness campaign powered through social media, the sale and distribution of over 1,500 program wristbands, as well as fundraising for mental health resources supporting Wes for Youth Online – a free counselling service created in memory of Wes Cameron, and the CMHA Waterloo-Wellington branch. To date, the Movement has raised over $7,000 with future events like a June 17 road hockey tournament designed with the goal of keeping the conversation going.
“Garrett McFadden has become a mental health advocate in the Guelph community,” said Megan Brady, Communications Specialist for CMHA Waterloo-Wellington. “By sharing his personal story about his struggles and the loss of a close family friend to suicide he has helped to shed light on the topic of mental illness. CMHA Waterloo-Wellington has enjoyed partnering with Garrett and providing assistance during his McFadden’s Movement presentations. The combination of hearing Garrett’s story and being able to share CMHA resources with young people has had a great impact on our community. As a leader on the Guelph Storm and a recognizable athlete in the community, he is using his position to help share important messages with young athletes.”
A 19-year-old from Kincardine, Ont., McFadden joined the Storm as the club’s first round pick in the 2013 OHL Priority Selection. The four-year OHL veteran was part of the Storm’s 2014 championship squad, has been named twice to Team OHL competing in both the 2015 and 2016 CIBC Canada Russia Series, and has recorded 103 points in 224 career games to date which ranks sixth among all time defencemen. In 2016-17 his 12 goals were a new career-high finishing the season with 37 points in 58 games and was named the Storm’s Most Valuable Player. In addition to his commitment to McFadden’s Movement, he led the Storm’s Champions for Education program visiting schools up to three times per week, while also representing the club as a Booster Juice Ambassador practicing regularly with local teams. The University of Guelph student was also a 2017 recipient of the ‘Be the Change’ Award presented by the school’s Student Life association.
“It’s been remarkable to watch Garrett become such an incredible leader in the conversation surrounding mental health, and in the community overall,” said Storm Governor Rick Gaetz. “Our entire organization congratulates him on this honour. Garrett is one of the most genuine and humble individuals anyone would have the pleasure to come across, and this is more than evident in everything he does. Whether he’s standing in front of a young hockey team, in front of a gym full of students, or one-on-one, Garrett has an outstanding passion for making a difference in the lives of others, always leaving a lasting impression just by being who he is. Everyone within the Storm, from management to staff to teammates, and so many others, are very proud of Garrett, and can’t wait to continue supporting him in his goal of not only changing the conversation around mental health, but in everything else that lies ahead.”
Each year the OHL awards a player that has demonstrated outstanding qualities as a positive role model in the community with the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy. The Ontario Hockey League Board of Governors announced in 2004 that the OHL Humanitarian of the Year award would be renamed in recognition of the former Owen Sound Platers captain, who was twice named his team’s Humanitarian of the Year in recognition of his tremendous efforts in supporting community activities.
McFadden becomes the first member of the Storm to earn the award. Past recipients include Chris Terry and Ryan Hayes who represented the Plymouth Whalers with back-to-back awards in 2009 and 2010 respectively, before Jack Walchessen and Andrew D’Agostini of the Peterborough Petes won in 2011 and 2012. Ben Fanelli (Kitchener 2013), Scott Simmonds (Belleville 2014), Nick Paul (North Bay 2015), and Will Petschenig (Saginaw 2016) are the most recent award recipients.
The 2017 OHL Awards Ceremony takes place on Thursday June 8 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto where McFadden will be formally presented with the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy. He will also be the OHL’s nominee for Humanitarian of the Year at the annual CHL Awards presented on Saturday May 27 at the 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup in Windsor.