Sunjai Sharma is used to giving rather than receiving.
The eight-year-old Prince George boy has raised more than $39,000 for B.C. Children’s Hospital over the past few years, but it was his effort on the ice that garnered him some attention and some cash.
His team, the Total Ice Titans from Williams Lake, are heading to the Mainland Tournament at the Coast later this month and Sunjai was picked as one of 10 local athletes being sponsored by the Brink Group of Companies.
“It’s fun to play, it’s very athletic, it’s my favourite sport,” Sunjai says of playing hockey. “I play at least once a day, sometimes five times a day.”
And, like most hockey kids, when he’s not on the ice, he’s out in the backyard taking shots at a net. That is, of course, when he’s not fundraising for Children’s Hospital.
“I really like doing it to help them because they helped me when I was seven months old,” he says. “I’ve been in there about three times.”
When Sunjai was just seven months old, he had surgery on his skull because the bones of his skull were still fused. He had to go back a couple of times for check-ups, but he’s fine now says his father Raj, who helps Sunjai with his fundraising, which all started when Sunjai was about three years old.
The father and son were going through the check-out at Save-On Foods where they happened to be selling chocolate bars for Children’s Hospital.
“We were going through and just to waste time we decided to sell some, I think we sold about 20 in half an hour,” says Raj. “That was a quick $40 or $50.”
From there, they started selling more and more and started collecting empties from friends and relatives. They started going to Prince George Cougars and Spruce Kings games where they would set up a table and sell chocolate bars between periods, where they raise about $400 per game. It was great for hockey fan Sunjai who also gets to see most of the games as well.
Raj’s employer heard about his fundraising efforts and said if Sunjai raised $1,000, he’d buy Sunjai a bike. Raj said Sunjai didn’t need a bike, so the stakes were upped … raise $2,000 and they’d get tickets to an Oilers game.
“That was July when he started,” says Raj. “By October we were at $2,000. We went to the last game of the year that season.”
That garnered him some local media attention, which made it a lot easier to sell chocolate bars. In addition to Cougars and Spruce Kings games they started setting up tables at the Farmer’s Market. During the 2015 Canada Winter Games Dougie Luv of Dougie Dog Hot Dogs bought a chocolate bar for $100. That snowballed into 140 chocolate bars being sold. Local businesses, such as the Northern Lights Estate Winery and Original Joe’s give him all their empties.
“He makes new friends everywhere he goes,” says Raj.
Sunjai stopped by Brink Forest Products last week show off some of his moves and receive the $500 sponsorship cheque.
“He’s an amazing young man,” says John Brink of the Brink Group of Companies. “He’s an example for other young people in the community to become part of the community, become part of causes. It’s great for him, great for the community, and great for Children’s Hospital. We are delighted to be sponsoring.”
Sunjai’s favourite teams?
The Edmonton Oilers, followed by the Boston Bruins.