Mark Woolley is this year’s winner of the Red Leckie Award for the Largest Contribution to the Community & Organization.
Woolley began the year by launching his ‘Woolley’s Warrior’s’ foundation, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness and support for children living with Type-1 Diabetes. Began with a modest goal of raising money to send children to D-Camp, Woolley’s Warriors took off and by the end of the season raised over $40,000. Full details of Mark’s charity work with Woolley’s Warriors can be found here.
The blueliner from St. Thomas, ON went beyond just raising money, and he invited many ‘Warriors’ with Type 1 Diabetes to attend Attack games and meet with the defenseman afterwards to discuss coping with the disease and how to still live a successful life. Mark was also part of many charity efforts in the community, school visits with the Canadian Mental Health Association and always one of the first to volunteer for events.
Head Coach Alan Letang says: “Mark brings the exact same passion he has on the ice as he does off. He’s a player that comes to the rink everyday wanting to get better and help people around him get better. Off the ice his leadership & selflessness shows by his commitment to Woolley’s Warriors. He’s the perfect example of what our organizations values and the kind of culture we want to build in Owen Sound.”
Mark Woolley is an incredible member of the community and the Attack are proud to honour him with the Red Leckie Award. Last year, the award was shared between Carter Robertson and Andrew MacLean while Ethan Szypula took home the honour in 2018.
Mark Woolley never envisioned what was to come when he launched Woolley’s Warriors last August. If you had told him he’d be sorting and labelling hoodies, making runs to the bank, and figuring out the best methods of distribution, he might be wondering how he’d fit it all in with his busy hockey schedule and a co-op placement at the local fire department. But through it all, the 18-year-old has handled his new foundation with grace beyond his years. In the first six months, Woolley’s Warriors was able to raise over $35,000 for Diabetes Canada with the help of Attack fans and the community at large. Now at the end of the 2019-20 season, with over $40,000 raised to send young children with Type 1 Diabetes to D-Camp, he looks back at it all with a smile.
“The response to Woolley’s Warriors has been outstanding.” Mark says. “From all aspects, including my family, friends, teammates, coaches, the ownership group and the amazing fans here in Owen Sound.” But it’s not just the local fans that have been giving their support. People have reached out from as far as Ottawa with messages explaining what WW means to them. The defenseman says: “It’s exceeded all expectations in every way and none of that would have been possible without the amazing support from everybody involved.”
The money raised has been impressive for Woolley, but he’s doing it for the community. He says the best part of the experience has been giving back to the community and connecting those who live with the same struggle that he does. “Being able to see all the smiles on kids faces that have attended one of our games as a ‘Warrior’ really brings me joy. Seeing the happiness from the kids reminds me every time why I do it.” he says. He knows exactly why it matters so much to him: “These kids need to realize it’s okay to be different and I’m doing as much as I can to prove that to them.” This season Mark has brought ten ‘Warriors’ to games, where he provides tickets for the family and then meets up after the game to chat with the family and how to live with Type 1 Diabetes.
People always say that ‘Hockey Is More Than A Game’. Woolley started the foundation with that in mind, but it wasn’t until things got underway that he really understood what it meant: “Some people don’t understand the opportunity you have while playing in the OHL and I wanted to make the most of my time in the league to make a positive impact in the community. Seeing others so happy just from us giving back to the community really is something special to me.”
The St. Thomas native has one message for those who want to make a difference themselves: “Always put yourself in other peoples shoes. How would it have felt if somebody did something like that for you when you were a kid? Just like giving a kid a high five coming off the ice. It may not seem like that big of a deal, but those small gestures mean everything.”
His Head Coach, Alan Letang, has noticed the impact Woolley brought to Owen Sound: “Mark brings the exact same passion he has on the ice as he does off. He’s a player that comes to the rink everyday wanting to get better and help people around him get better. He sacrifices his body by blocking shots and playing a heavy game.” He adds: “Off the ice his leadership and selflessness shows by his commitment to Woolley’s Warriors. He’s the perfect example of what our organizations values and the kind of culture we want to build in Owen Sound.”
It’s making an impression among his peers, too. Attack captain Aidan Dudas says: “Mark is such an incredible young man, I can’t imagine how hard it can be sometimes to live with diabetes, let alone be a high performance athlete with diabetes, and focus on your own health while giving back to so many kids around Ontario with diabetes. What he has done for Woolley’s Warriors and many kids living with diabetes is incredible, But that is just the type of guy Mark is, he always wants to help others.”
What’s next for Woolley’s Warriors? Mark says: “We’ve got a lot of ideas in our back pockets. Nothing is confirmed right now, but we’ve got a lot of possibilities. We want to get involved with the DSkate program and potentially be a guest at one of those camps There’s lots of things to come for Woolley’s Warriors and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.”
On Saturday, February 22, prior to the Owen Sound Attack facing off against the Erie Otters, Mark Woolley proudly presented Diabetes Canada with a $35,000 cheque, raised through his efforts in just six months with Woolley’s Warriors (WW28). The donation will help send kids to Diabetes Canada D-Camps this summer.
Launched in August 2019, WW28 is a nonprofit initiative that holds the goal of sending kids to D-Camps and ultimately connecting those living with diabetes through sharing Woolley’s personal story, while building a platform for others to share theirs. Woolley, an 18-year-old who was originally diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 12 after his older brother Matt had also been diagnosed at birth, has been meeting fellow diabetic youth and young athletes following his games this season in addition to his fundraising efforts.
Woolley’s incredible $35,000 donation will help send a number of kids to D-Camps in 2020, where after beginning more than 60 years ago, the camps have continued to give children living with Type 1 diabetes an authentic camp experience that combines fun activities, friendship, and education on how to manage their diabetes with help from medical professionals who are on site 24/7.
On hand for the presentation was Laura Toito, who has been an exceptional support of WW28 since its creation, and Nicole Holder Dulson – both from Diabetes Canada.
Most notably, the unbelievable and overwhelming quick success of WW28 would not have been possible without the support of so many who donated not just financially, but also with genuine support.
“I just want to personally thank each and every person who has had an impact on making this possible. None of this would be possible without the outstanding support shown from countless people thus far,” Woolley reflected. “I remember when WW28 was first launched, we had a goal of raising $6,000 just to be able to send a few kids to camp… now looking back at what we had aimed for in August, and seeing the progression of WW28, it truly is outstanding.”
“So many kids living with Type 1 will be positively impacted after being given the opportunity to attend D-Camp,” Woolley continued. “So once again, thank you to everybody who has supported me and WW28 so far. I’m looking forward to the future and can’t wait to continue to do as much as I can to connect those living with Type 1 diabetes.”
Diabetes Canada works tirelessly to advocate for and support Canadians living with diabetes with helpful resources, education, research, and more. We’re Canada’s source for facts about diabetes care, prevention, and finding a cure.
Since D-Camps began more than 60 years ago, more than 20,000 children have attended our camps for children living with type 1 diabetes. Our campers enjoy an authentic camp experience that combines fun activities, friendship, and education on how to manage their diabetes with help from medical professionals who are on site 24/7. Diabetes Canada provides camp subsidies to help children from lower-income families attend. We also offer family camps, creating an opportunity for family members and caregivers to connect with others who are experiencing similar challenges.
The initiative hopes to conquer diabetes with support and awareness for young athletes living every day with Type 1, with the goal of sending kids to Diabetes Canada D-Camps and to ultimately connect those living with diabetes.
The blue circle found in the WW28 logo is the universal symbol for diabetes which signifies the unity of the global diabetes community.
Mark Woolley has met, and continues to meet with young fans and athletes living with diabetes.
Woolley was diagnosed with Type 1 at the age of 12, while his older brother, Matt, has had diabetes since birth giving the Woolley parents the foundation to notice the same symptoms in their youngest son.
Woolley draws inspiration from former Guelph Storm captain Garrett McFadden and his nonprofit McFadden’s Movement, in addition to Montreal Canadiens forward and fellow diabetic Max Domi.