The 3D Children’s Society has found themselves in the middle of a national, hot button issue.
The charity is set to host its 20th anniversary Gala on December 2, which is to be headlined by none other than Ron MacLean, who many have differing views on since his long-time Coach’s Corner partner Don Cherry was fired by Sportsnet back on November 11.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, the charity says they have since been receiving many negative and threatening emails about MacLean’s appearance here in Grande Prairie.
That’s left the organization in a tough spot, because though MacLean had agreed to come speak well before the Coach’s Corner segment that aired on November 9, many people’s views of the long-time host have changed because of his lack of support for Cherry following that broadcast two Saturday’s ago.
“My biggest concern is letting these kids and these families down,” said 3D Children’s Society Chair Darren Foley. “I feel like I’m letting them down. I want to do the best that we can for them.”
MacLean was put on the hot seat after the 85-year-old Cherry made a call for more people to wear a poppy for Remembrance Day, specifically stating:
“You people love, that come here, whatever it is. You love our way of life. You love our milk and honey. At least you could pay a couple of bucks for a poppy or something like that.”
The comments were taken by many as a direct reference to new immigrants. Social media quickly became flooded with angry comments following the weekly segment’s airing and Cherry was let go by Sportsnet two days later, after nearly four decades with Hockey Night in Canada.
Though MacLean did not say anything during the segment, he denounced the comments the next day, referring to them as “hurtful”. Maclean also spoke during a monologue this past Saturday night, during what would normally be Coach’s Corner and further addressed the issue. He talked about his close relationship with Cherry, saying he had to choose “principle over friendship,” adding “Coach’s Corner is no more.”
With all of that transpiring, Foley and the charity are left feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place. Though some people may feel strongly about the issue, the charity and the event are trying to keep themselves away from it.
Foley stresses that the Gala event is about celebrating the charity’s accomplishments over the years, and continuing to raise money for sick children and their family’s to get medical care outside of Grande Prairie.
He further adds that MacLean is making the trip because he wants to help with that.
“I’ve asked Ron many times, (telling him) we’d like to pay some kind of a fee for your time to come, and we wouldn’t take anything. He is coming on his time, he’s not taking any kind of a fee. He is coming to help us.”
“I just want people to know that.”
Foley adds that he knows Grande Prairie is a very generous community when it comes to charitable causes and hopes that overcomes any of the negativity.
“We’re very hopeful that kindness and compassion, and education to people about what we do, will overcome any of this negative stuff.”
Many others will be on hand for the event, including Hall-of-Famer’s Lanny McDonald and Paul Coffey among other former NHL players. Foley adds the Flames and Oilers have also gone “above and beyond” for the event and will be providing plenty of items for the event.
“I can’t say enough about those two organizations and what they are doing to help us,” said Foley.
Though Foley hasn’t spoken to MacLean since the incident happened, he is “95% certain” that Maclean will still make the trip in two weeks time. He does say though he would understand if he decided not to come.
“But, I would be surprised. That’s not who Ron is.”
Tickets for the 3D Children’s Charity Gala on December 2 at the Bowes Event Centre are still available and can be purchased through the Revolution Place Box Office.