(CBS) — Youth hockey is exploding in the Chicago area.
But the fact is there are still many children who don’t have the opportunity to play the game.
CBS 2’s Rob Johnson introduces us to a man who’s trying to change that.
For Chicago hedge fund manager Ray Lilja, hockey has been a lifelong passion he is now sharing with others – specifically, with kids from the inner city who might not be able to afford the expensive equipment and ice time.
“I thought it would be so cool is to take these inner-city kids that they label ‘at-risk’ and get them involved in something that they can take the rest of their lives and have fun with,” he says.
The result is Hockey on Your Block, which combines hockey skills, mentoring and an after-school program. It is founded by Lilja, supported by Congressman Mike Quigley, and sponsored by the Chicago Blackhawks. Johnny’s Icehouse supplies the free ice time.
“The great success of the Blackhawks lately has brought an incredible interest to the sport, plus the fact there are players of color in the NHL now, so kids are thinking, ‘I’d like to try this sport,” Lilja says.
For the young players, it’s a brand-new athletic opportunity.
Payton Chandler says he does “any hockey drills you can imagine.”
“If you fall you just keep trying,” Melissa Lema says.
Saturday, some of those kids will be featured on the ice before a charity game benefitting Hockey on Your Block.
It’s at 1 p.m. at Rocket Ice Arena in Bolingbrook. For more information, click here.