Via Jason Simmonds, Saltwire Network
SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. — Kaleb Dahlgren’s visit to Summerside may have been short, but it was powerful.
A survivor of the 2018 Humboldt Broncos bus crash, the 24-year-old Dahlgren shared his story of resilience, engaged in conversations with people of all ages, spent time with two young diabetics and delivered impactful messages.
“The Humboldt Broncos incident affected everyone in hockey across the world,” said Billy McGuigan, head coach of the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals. “He was here for a few minutes in our dressing room and spoke on how quickly things can turn, and you are not guaranteed tomorrow.
“It was a great speech, and he basically told the boys to go out and have fun, hockey is a great game, and we are fortunate to play. That was a great message. I didn’t have to do much talking after that.”
The Capitals, who brought Dahlgren to Summerside, defeated the Miramichi Timberwolves 8-2 to extend their winning streak to nine games in the Maritime Junior Hockey League (MHL). But on this night, hockey took a back seat.
Capitals forward and assistant captain Colby MacArthur described Dahlgren’s message of not taking anything for granted, cherishing the memories, making the most of the situation and always giving 100 per cent as inspiring.
“You can’t put into our words how deep it went,” said MacArthur, 20. “Some of the boys got emotional, and we wanted to battle for each other. We know junior hockey ends at some point, but you never know when.”
The Capitals hosted An Evening With Kaleb Dahlgren at the Harbourfront Theatre on Nov. 7 and partnered with the A&E Legacy Foundation for a sold-out dinner on Nov. 6. The A&E Legacy Foundation honours the memory of Alex Hutchinson and Ethan Reilly, who died in a boating accident near Alberton in September 2020.
Nathan DesRoches, co-chair of the A&E Legacy Fund, described the event as one of the most powerful experiences of his life.
“Being in a room full of people who went through some tough times and to have him come up and speak on those tough issues was very powerful stuff,” said DesRoches, who expressed his appreciation to Caps general manager Pat McIver and the organization for involving the foundation. “Kaleb’s mission to take some of his challenging and traumatic life experiences and facilitate those to enrich the lives of others was very empowering for our foundation.”
Lisa Lamers attended An Evening With Kaleb Dahlgren with her staff at Summerside-based Lamers Insurance Agency Inc. Lamers described the event as an excellent team-building exercise around resilience.
“The message he delivered was extremely powerful and certainly left us with a different perspective that we can overcome adversity and come out strong,” said Lamers.
Lamers said one of her favourite parts of Dahlgren’s address was when he talked about his taxi squad. In Humboldt, befriended four local fans and Special Olympics athletes and drove them to and from Bronco games. Dahlgren still communicates with the four individuals today.
“It showed the kind of man he was before he was famous – he was just a great kind-hearted kid,” said Lamers. “It really made me see the type of character Kaleb has.
“To drive them to every single game and never miss once, just the commitment he had to his taxi crew, was really heartfelt and inspiring for everybody to do better.”