Steelers' star raises thousands for Sheffield youngsters
A Steelers' ice hockey star who wanted to raise a few hundred pounds for Sheffield youngsters struggling with mental health has surpassed his wildest expectations.
French-Canadian forward Marc Oliver Vallerand has been struck by the ideals and philosophies of the Becton Centre at the city's Children's Hospital.
The Child and Adolescent unit treats youngsters whose lives have been damaged by difficulties that impact on their emotional wellbeing.
Vallerand, aged 30, only moved to Sheffield in the Autumn but wants to help the community, over the festive period.
He said: "I try every season to do something for the kids for around Christmas time, try to get people involved.
"Mental health has been something I really care about it I feel it's a disease that really creeps into you, especially with kids.
"It needs for some people to talk about it, so we can help those kids."
The skater said some people in society think the problem of depression was over-emphasised.
"But you don't chose to go through depression. You certainly don't want to get in that state - sometimes it just happens and you need some resource to help you out through it.
"There is a time in my life where I might have been more depressed I just realise how someone so happy, so joy-full of life, can just (become) a bit miserable.
"I think it is important to talk about it."
Vallerand and some of his Steeler team-mates found out what life was like for youngsters at state-of-the-art Becton.
"Most kids spend up to 25 weeks, some even stay over a year there" he said. "Some kids are taken care of 24/7 and some of them can't leave the centre."
The professional sportsman, who played in Austria last year, said he'd initially figured he'd raise around £800.
But within a day, the incoming cash from Steelers' fans and others persuaded him to raise the target to £2,000.
Now with some "money from guys in the locker room and I think we are going to surpass £4,000" he said.
The Centre caters for children and young adults aged up to 18 with serious and complex mental health issues.