Charity launched in fallen student's name
A cause that Eric Leighton worked for in life is continuing to benefit from his memory.
The 18-year-old hockey player helped raise money so underprivileged children could play sports until his death in a shop class explosion in May.
Saturday, his family was on hand as the "I Love to Play Hockey" program was launched to carry on that work.
"It's a legacy, people are going to remember him from here on," said his father Patrick Leighton. "He's hard not to remember."
When Leighton died, his family asked for donations to the Canadian Tire Jumpstart program to help the one in three Canadian families who can't afford sports and recreation.
"It's so great," said Marc Wolvin with the Jumpstart program, which is running "I Love to Play Hockey" with the City of Ottawa. "That's what the program us all about, being able to provide that opportunity for kids to play."
Fifty kids will benefit from the more than $23,000 donated, money that will go towards skates, equipment, four weeks of lessons on outdoor rinks and more.
"We're providing the coaches and transportation to arenas, as well as the arenas themselves for the kids," said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson
Those kids, wearing jerseys with Leighton's name on the back, said they're thankful for the chance to play.
"I feel proud, it's my first time wearing a hockey jersey actually," said Birki Omar. "I'm representing him, in a way."
"I see that in all these kids' faces and I can't help but think that my brother is here," said Kaitlyn Leighton. "You know Eric's here with them."
The Leighton family said they plan to keep fundraising for the Jumpstart program in Eric's name and that they're planning a memorial for May on the anniversary of his death.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Karen Soloman