Tavares headlines charity Block Party at Wesbild

John Tavares, the first overall pick of the New York Islanders in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, will be greeting fans, playing some shinny and maybe even flipping a few burgers at a block party Wednesday afternoon at Wesbild Centre.

What started out as a block party has blossomed into a full-blown community event at Wesbild Centre.

When Vernon’s Lisa Seltzer won the nation-wide Source for Sports John Tavares Block Party contest, it was originally going to be a simple meet-and-greet, followed by a ball hockey game.

Since then, it has evolved into a charity event for Special Olympics Vernon, with Tavares, the first overall pick of the New York Islanders in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, greeting fans, playing some shinny and maybe even flipping a few burgers, all for a good cause.

The event, featuring a silent auction, draw prizes and a charity barbecue, goes Wednesday, 4 to 6 p.m., at Wesbild.

Auction/draw items include four signed Tavares pro sticks, two signed Tavares Islander jerseys and a pair of CCM Crazy Light skates (valued at $700). All proceeds will support local Special Olympics athletes.

Tavares’ charity of choice is Special Olympics, so the ball hockey event has grown to include the local senior and junior hockey teams, Seltzer’s Pee Wee hockey team (Vernon 5-Star Awards Bulldogs), a handful of Vernon Vipers and a few other local figures.

“This thing has evolved to a point where Tavares has really shown a willingness to support our Special Olympic athletes,” said Mike Melbourne, owner of Vernon’s Sun Valley Source for Sports.

“We’re trying to make this a fun event and be upbeat with it,” added Melbourne, noting the event is receiving great volunteer support.

Melbourne thanked sponsors Grillers Meats & Eats, Sweet Caroline’s Bakery, Coopers Foods and Nor-Val Rentals.