It was a special day for Ava Foote.
The diminutive female hockey player who has overcome severe injury received a Hockey Canada Ambassador award on Friday during a presentation at the Pictou County Wellness Centre.
“I’m proud and thrilled for her,” Foote’s father Jeremy Foote said.
“It’s overwhelming,” Foote’s mother Angela Foote said afterward. “We’re so proud of her.”
Hockey Canada officials recorded video of the event before a short pickup hockey game and the presentation that followed.
The day was doubly thrilling for Foote when she met Olympics women’s hockey silver medalist Jillian Saulnier and had two opportunities to don Saulnier’s silver medal.
Saulnier and Stellarton native Blayre Turnbull are the first Nova Scotians to play on a women’s Olympics hockey team. They were teammates on the CWHL’s Calgary Inferno, but Saulnier has elected not to rejoin the team as Turnbull has.
“I heard her story and I’m so impressed with her,” said Saulnier, referring to Ava.
Foote was honoured on Friday after a pickup hockey game between the Subway Selects Atom Division team she plays for and the Trenton Steelers novice team.
The honour was in response to injuries Foote suffered on June 1, 2017 which resulted in the loss of most of her right hand above the knuckles. The result was three major surgeries and a lengthy stay at the IWK hospital. The last time Foote met with her surgeons, after a long healing process, she was told she had no restrictions or limitations.
She took this to heart, and she said to her mom “…I’m getting back in the saddle, I’ve got catching up to do and I’m going to go swimming like a normal kid.”
Now she’s back riding horses, swimming, participating in gymnastics and playing hockey with no limitations.
On her birthday, Ava asked all her friends who came to bring either a donation, or a craft kit to be packaged and delivered by her to the IWK to help give comfort to children who are patients there. She said she knew how important it was to have these things during her recovery and wanted to return the favour.
Friday’s events concluded with a formal presentation of a cheque for $1,500 from employees of Crombie REIT, Sobeys and Big 8 to the IWK on Foot’s behalf.
Ava Foote sports a Canada jersey as she stands between Olympian Jillian Saulnier, left, and Selects coach Duane Cleary. (Goodwin photo)