Members of the Ricky Ryp Foundation are continuing their friend’s legacy.
The non-profit foundation is providing financial help to people who need it across southern Alberta.
“Rick was a fantastic guy,” foundation member Rickie Sharma said. “He would give you the shirt off his back. He was always smiling, always in a good mood, always the life of the party.”
The party ended for Rick Rypien, a Crowsnest Pass man who played in the NHL for the Vancouver Canucks, when he took his own life in the midst of a long battle with depression.
His friends and family came together in 2012 to establish the Ricky Ryp Foundation, which raises money to be awarded to people facing financial challenges.
“It’s a way to carry on Rick’s legacy,” Sharma said. “We’re just doing the things Rick would be doing if he was here today.”
During his playing career in junior, the minors and the National Hockey League Rypien was involved with a number of charities.
Sharma said there were times he was at fund-raising events and witness Rypien bidding on items he had donated, and then giving the item to the next highest bidder.
The foundation has a “Local Talent” category through which it will provide money or equipment to help people further themselves in academics, athletics or the arts.
The foundation also has a category titled “Those in Need” to provide money and assistance to people and families who suffer hardship through illness, injury or other struggles.
“Every application gets looked at,” Sharma said. “They all tug at your heart and you want to help everyone.”
The foundation recently provided $10,000 to the Together For Tosia fund.
Tosia is a three-year-old southern Alberta girl who suffered a stroke when she was two days old and now has cerebral palsy, hemiparesis, symptomatic epilepsy and significant motor delays.
Tosia is scheduled for a surgery at the end of April at the St. Louis Children’s Hospital that is the first step to help her walk.
“Our goal is just to help people in need in southern Alberta,” Sharma said. “We’re expanding and the more people who contribute to the foundation, the more people we can help.”
The foundation’s major fund-raiser is a golf tournament to be held this year on July 25-26 at Crowsnest Pass Golf Club.
In addition to golfers, the foundation is looking for corporate sponsorship as well as donations.
Registration opened Monday to the public.
The foundation also operates a summer hockey school established by Rick Rypien in his hometown Crowsnest Pass.
In 2012 the foundation in co-operation with the National Hockey League Players’ Association hosted a charity hockey game as a fund-raiser.
NHLers including Kevin Bieksa, Tanner Glass, Dylan Olsen, Kris Versteeg and Darcy Hordichuk spent the day working with young players and then took part in a game that evening.
The foundation raised $18,000 in 2012 and the money went to three people through the “Those In Need” category.
The foundation also gave $2,000 to Kids Sport, which assists young athletes.
Rick Rypien rose through the Crowsnest Pass Minor Hockey system to play for the Junior A Crowsnest Pass Timberwolves.
Rypien then played for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League and later signed with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League.
By the mid way point of his first professional season Rypien was playing in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks.
Rypien carved out a reputation for hard work, determination and a genuine concern about the people around him.
“We want to keep Rick’s legacy going as long as possible and help as many people as we can,” Sharma said.
For information or to contribute to the Ricky Ryp Foundation visit www.rickyrypfoundation.ca.