Arnett helps Winnipeg United Way give kids gift of sports.

Winnipeg Free Press, Tuesday November 29, 2011. Reproduced with permission.
By: Brad Oswald. Photo: Ruth Bonneville.

For the United Way of Winnipeg, it’s a development that is anything but arrested.

Will Arnett & Skylar Pearson.

Hollywood actor Will Arnett shakes hands with 12-year-old Skyler Pearson, Dream Seats recipient at United Way Tuesday. Arnett helped United Way launch a new program to help kids who might not otherwise get the chance to attend a Winnipeg Jets hockey game by donating his tickets.

Arnett, a cast member on the beloved and critically acclaimed Fox sitcom Arrested Development, who currently co-stars with Christina Applegate in the NBC comedy Up All Night, was born in Toronto, but both his parents were born and raised in Winnipeg. His maternal grandfather, William Palk, was the United Way of Winnipeg’s first campaign chair in 1965, and Arnett visited the city often during his childhood and maintains family ties in the community.

When Palk passed away in 2009, Arnett honoured his memory by contributing to the William Lawrence Palk Family Fund within the United Way’s’ endowment, the Tomorrow Fund. And when he heard Winnipeg was getting its NHL team back, Arnett – a lifelong hockey fan – had an idea, and placed a call to the local United Way office.

“I was in my apartment in New York, and I saw online that the team was coming back here,” Arnett explained, “and I thought, ‘That’s great – there’s a whole generation that has probably never had a chance to go to an NHL game who will now be able to go.’ … And as I thought about it a little longer, it occurred to me that there’s probably a huge percentage of the population who would still not have access. And I thought maybe I could reach out to someone and get my hands on some season tickets, I could donate them.”

The United Way took Arnett’s donation and expanded the idea to create Dream Seats and its website, DreamSeats.ca, which will allow local corporations and individuals to donate hockey, football and baseball tickets under one umbrella campaign.

“Hockey is not just our sport, it’s our national passion,” said Arnett. “To be able to go see those NHL players perform at the highest level is something is something all Canadians should experience, because it’s the best example of the thing we all love so much, and that kids play on ponds and rivers and outdoor rinks across the country.”

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