After a Ducks game in Anaheim on Wednesday night, they’re off to Los Angeles for a Kings game Saturday. That’ll be the eighth stop.
“It’s been great,” Graham Snyder said from California. “The reception has been wonderful everywhere we’ve gone.
“We’ve met some great people that we didn’t know before and we’ve met up with some old friends, too. The hockey world has been so supportive.”
Dan Snyder was a passenger in a Ferrari driven by Dan Heatley, then a Thrashers teammate, that crashed in Atlanta on Sept. 29, 2003. The seriously-injured Snyder subsequently died of an infection.
The district attorney who handled the case noted that Snyder’s parents’ insistence that Heatley not get jail time was a reason why Heatley could plead guilty and get three years probation.
The Snyders take in an NHL game in each city, visit with players and make speaking appearances to pass on their message of forgiveness and to raise awareness and money for the foundation, which has set as one of its goals the construction of a community centre in Elmira.
He is a financial adviser and she is a retired nurse so the flexibility of their schedules enabled them to set out on the tour, which would take them more than 22,000 kilometres when finished.
The Snyders started out in an RV from their Elmira, Ont., home for games in Chicago on Oct. 12 and in St. Paul, Minn., on Oct. 14.
“A bucket flew off a pickup truck in front of us on a very windy day somewhere between Chicago and Minnesota,” Graham Snyder said when asked if there’d been any road incidents. “We took a solid hit to the front bumper.”
They went on to Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and San Jose. Driving south from British Columbia, they chose a narrow road along the U.S. coast.
“It was the narrowest, windingest stretch of highway I’ve ever been on,” he said. “We were going through the redwoods heading into California.
“I went around a turn and there was a rock in the middle of the road and I had nowhere to go. It got wedged between the (dual) tires on the back. We thought we had a flat tire at first. I got out and had a look and took a hammer to it. Eventually, we broke up the rock and carried on.”
It’ll take more than a pail or a rock to halt their progress.
“We plan on going the distance,” said Graham Snyder.
The RV, supplied by Don Reynolds, who was Dan Snyder’s agent, has a kitchen so they do a lot of their own cooking. They’ve got a portable barbecue aboard, too, so they can cook outdoors in the south.
After a sidetrip to San Diego, they’ll go to Phoenix for a Coyotes game next Wednesday.
The Snyders met with Ducks defenceman Joe DiPenta after his team’s practice Tuesday. DiPenta, who is from Barrie, Ont., was Dan’s teammate when the Chicago Wolves won the AHL’s Calder Cup in 2002.
There was an RV park near the Duck Pond so the Snyders took a spot there. For the Kings game, left-winger Jeff Cowan’s wife offered to drive them from another RV park to the downtown Staples Centre. The Torontonian was a linemate of Snyder in Atlanta.
They’ll be in Atlanta just before Christmas, leave the RV there, and fly home for the holidays. They’ll visit the Leafs in Toronto early in 2007.
A website, 37risingstars.com, detailing their journey is to be up and running later this week.
Funding and game tickets during the tour has come from the NHL, member clubs and the NHLPA.