Arnett offering Dream Seats to kids in need.

Winnipeg Sun, Wednesday November 29, 2011. Reproduced with permission.
By: Ross Romaniuk

A U.S. television star is helping dreams of watching the Winnipeg Jets take flight for disadvantaged children.

Will Arnett, an actor and comedian who has co-starred in American series 30 Rock, Up All Night and Arrested Development, joined the United Way of Winnipeg on Tuesday to unveil the organization’s Dream Seats program, through which tickets for the NHL team’s games —as well as for games of the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and baseball’s Winnipeg Goldeyes—will be donated by purchasers for the use of kids and teens who would otherwise have difficulty attending, for various reasons.

Will Arnett high-fives Skylar Pearson at the Dream Seats press conference.

Will Arnett high-fives Skylar Pearson at the Dream Seats press conference.

The Toronto-born and New York-based Arnett, whose parents are originally from Winnipeg and whose grandfather was the local United Way branch’s first campaign chairman in the mid-1960s, said his love for hockey spurred him this past summer to buy Jets season tickets and donate them to Winnipeg’s underprivileged youngsters.

“I’ve never lost that sense of awe and wonder when I go into a rink right before a game, with all the fans in there and the fresh sheet of ice,” said the 41-year-old celebrity, who had grown up as a fan of his hometown Maple Leafs. “And it occurred to me that there would be a whole generation of kids here who have never experienced that. So it makes me feel good, knowing that there will be kids who are now able to.”

After the actor contacted the United Way of Winnipeg about distributing his season ducats to kids in need, the charitable organization took his idea and launched it higher with, which allows owners of any Jets, Bombers or Goldeyes tickets to donate them.

“If you’ve got season tickets or if you’ve just got a few tickets, and it’s the middle of the week and you realize you can’t attend the weekend game,” said United Way board member Robert McGee, “why not give them to the United Way, so we can give a youth a chance to experience that game?”

Skyler Pearson, a 12-year-old with spina bifida, showed Arnett his appreciation for tickets with which he attended the “so awesome” Jets home opener in October.

“The building erupted. The cheering was so loud,” Skyler had told Arnett in a letter, which he read aloud at the Dream Seats announcement. “Thank you for this opportunity of a lifetime chance of seeing the Winnipeg Jets.”

Arnett, the husband of U.S. TV and film star Amy Poehler, watched the Jets game Tuesday night in the Winnipeg Sun’s suite at MTS Centre.

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