Eugene Melnyk launches national 'Patrons of Sport' campaign in support of Canadian athletes

Ottawa Senators owner, Eugene Melnyk, kick starts CAN Fund's new national Patrons of Sport fundraising campaign with a $1 million donation. Jane Roos, Executive Director of CAN Fund (right), water polo star, Waneek Hope-Miller (left), and Canada's athletes are excited about Eugene's leadership in encouraging all Canadians to become Patrons of Sport. (CNW Group/Canadian Athletes Now Fund)


    TORONTO, Aug. 8 /CNW/ - Eugene Melnyk, Canadian business leader and owner
of the National Hockey League's Ottawa Senators, joined with the Canadian
Athletes Now Fund (CAN Fund) to announce the launch of Patrons of Sport, a
national campaign to raise funds in support of Canadian athletes. Melnyk,
through his founding donation of $1 million, is rallying all Canadians to join
him in raising funds for the country's top athletes, so they can be more
competitive when they represent Canada on the world stage.
    More than 100 athletes, coaches, parents and corporate guests gathered to
honour Melnyk's commitment and to launch the Patrons of Sport movement.
    "These athletes are at the top of their game. They are chasing big dreams
of becoming a world champion, winning an Olympic gold and being the best in
the world at their sport. Often there is a substantial cost and a very heavy
financial burden to chasing these dreams," Melnyk said. "I know from over
25 years of business experience, one cannot achieve success without the help
of others. These athletes need our help."
    As the founding donor, Melnyk added: "This national campaign is about
letting our athletes know that an entire country is behind them. I'm asking
all Canadians who value everything our athletes represent to join me and
become a 'Patron of Sport.' When these young Canadians wear the maple leaf and
compete internationally, they instill an overwhelming sense of national pride
and, in doing so, they remind us how sport can make a nation better."
    "Today, I have found a leader in Eugene Melnyk. I've found my Captain
Canada," said Jane Roos, CAN Fund's founder and Executive Director noted.
"Eugene has become the first Patron of Sport in this country and as a
good-hearted Canadian he is willing to take the lead, put a stake in the
ground and highlight to Canadians how important it is to support our
athletes."
    Today's launch of the Patrons of Sport campaign coincides with the
official one-year countdown to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Canadians
are being encouraged to follow Melnyk's lead and make whatever contribution
they can to show their support for these athletes. The campaign's philosophy
is that all donors, large or small, will be designated as a Patron of Sport.
Donations can be made on-line at www.PatronsofSport.com or by calling
1-866-YES-2008 with funds going directly to the athletes.

    About the Canadian Athletes Now Fund
    ------------------------------------
    The Canadian Athletes Now Fund is a not-for-profit organization devoted
solely to raising money and awareness for Canada's amateur athletes.
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Fund has helped over 500 Canadian
athletes prepare for international summer and winter competitions. Canadian
athletes allocate this direct financial support to their training, coaching,
nutrition and living expenses. For every contribution over $25 a tax receipt
is issued and the donor finds out which athlete they have supported.
www.CanadianAthletesNow.ca

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/




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