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We’ll be spotlighting some of the hockey captains who are leading the way for Hockey Challenge this February 27th. Keep your eyes peeled for more interviews in this series throughout the month!
John Barr is a hard-core hockey player and fan, dedicated to helping the Ronald McDonald House through the Hockey Challenge. He started playing with the Microsoft Windows team at a Hockey Challenge 12 years ago and has been hooked ever since. “One of the great things about the Hockey Challenge is seeing my friends, coworkers, and fundraisers getting involved in a good cause, having fun and enjoying the day. It’s great to see people get so passionate about the Ronald McDonald House. To watch someone learn about the cause through hockey, give out of their own pocket and to donate without thinking twice, that just means the world to me,” says Barr.
His involvement started as a player, but has gradually gotten more and more involved with Hockey Challenge. “When I first started, I didn’t know anybody and I wasn’t a great player. My skate blade even came off in one of the games in the first few years. But somebody from the equipment team at the Seattle Thunderbirds fixed my skate, and I was back out like a half-period later. I’ve also developed some great friendships through this event and it’s just a wonderful community,” says Barr. A few years later, he began managing his own team with his fellow employees from Microsoft’s XBOX team. Barr’s current group of players has grown so large that he now splits them into two teams, with players from a diverse variety of local companies. “We’ve had some pretty heated games – it’s hockey and nobody wants to lose. But at the same time, everybody is out there having fun and having a good time. And everyone is playing hard, and that’s fun to see too,” Barr says. Although Barr’s team doesn’t have a specific rival team, they are always trying to raise the most money at the fundraiser. “If there were one team to beat, it would be the Microsoft IT team because they are so great at fundraising!”
What Barr finds most compelling about the House is the fact that it creates an instant community for families who are far away from home and who need comfort during such a stressful time. For the families that stay at the House, this helps them find the strength and support they need to get through challenges. “Community is a big thing to me, it’s one of my values. The Ronald McDonald House creates an instant community so displaced people who come from Alaska or Montana or wherever they’re coming from can immediately get that support system,” he says. Communal housing means parents meet over dinner, bond with others who have a child with a similar diagnosis, and are part of a community that understands the specific needs of their child – even if that is something as simple as making sure that surfaces are constantly sanitized to protect kids with low immunity.
“What’s fascinating is that when you start fundraising, you start seeing all these connections to the Ronald McDonald House. You’ll get a story from someone you would never know stayed at the House. It’s one thing to see a video about what the House does, and another thing to hear a story that’s just one-degree of separation away from you,” Barr explains.
When he isn’t on the ice himself as a hockey captain, Barr can be found taking part in games through a local hockey league and managing an enthusiastic community of fans for NHL to Seattle. You can support Barr’s team on his website. Barr will be matching donations to the NHLtoSeattle fundraising page up to a $1000.