British Columbia

Parents of frozen puddle goalie call outpouring of support 'humbling'

The father of 12-year-old Markus Stewart said he feels "a little bit guilty" about the many offers to help his son, who was captured on video practicing hockey on a frozen puddle in Abbotsford, B.C.

'I want to give him a chance,' says teen who set up fundraiser to pay for Markus Stewart's hockey lessons

Markus Stewart, 12, gears up for the thing he loves '100 per cent': ice hockey. (Andy Stewart)

The mother of Markus Stewart says the outpouring of support her family has received since a video of her 12-year-old son practicing hockey on a frozen puddle went viral, is "humbling."

Chris Stewart says it's been otherwise difficult to explain her reaction to the offers of help.

"It's just crazy. Every day I just get more emails, more requests, asking, 'How can we help?'" she said.

The young boy's dad, Andy Stewart, said the family feels "a little bit guilty" about the possibility of "taking things when we know that there's other kids who have less than what Markus gets, but we don't want to deprive [him] of something either."

A neighbour posted a video of the young goalie practicing on a puddle that had frozen over on an Abbotsford, B.C., street on Dec. 30, 2015. 

The Facebook post has been shared 3,000 times and been seen more than 300,000 times. 

The young boy said he finds the attention "really cool."

He started playing on the frozen puddle after several unsuccessful attempts building a backyard rink.

His parents say they never placed him on a team growing up because he has epilepsy and they were advised against full-contact sports like hockey. 

The 12-year-old's condition has improved and he now plays ball hockey regularly, but his parents struggle knowing it's ice hockey he loves.

"He loves to put on the gear, he likes to sit on the bench and likes to play a little bit. You know it is a lot of money for him to play if he just wants to be there for the fun," said Chris Stewart, who has four other children. "It's an expensive sport."

Save of the day

Bailey Monteith, a 14-year-old goalie from Kamloops, B.C., set up a fundraising campaign to support Markus Stewart's dream of playing on a hockey team. (Cari Monteith)

Within a day of hearing Markus Stewart's story, 14-year-old goalie Bailey Monteith — who's never met Stewart — stepped up to help.

The Kamloops, B.C., teen set up an online fundraising campaign to pay for at least a year of Stewart's potential hockey fees.

Monteith, who's played on a team for nine years, said he was "upset" by his fellow goalie's story and felt "privileged" about his opportunity to play organized hockey.

"People take it for granted and just expect it," said Monteith. "Markus hasn't had a chance to feel that yet and I want to give him a chance to feel it."

In one night, the teen is already close to his goal of of raising $2,000.

His message to Stewart, who "seemed like a natural," was simply to "get ready to play hockey next year."