Green Shirt Day was celebrated in Cochrane on Apr. 7 with a combination of street hockey fun and spreading awareness of the importance of organ transplants.

Michelle Hounslow and Greg Hnatuk are both organ transplant recipients and are living testimonies of the importance of organ donations.

Hounslow says it's part of a national effort to have Canadians wear green on Apr. 7. She says holding a street hockey event was a natural fit to honour Logan Boulet and the Humboldt Broncos.

"We created this with wonderful support from Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre. We've had donations from the Calgary Flames to give away and we've had lots of community support."

That support included the involvement of Cochrane's junior hockey teams, the Generals and Chaos. 

"What a wonderful thing for the Generals and the Cochrane Chaos to come out and play with the kids," says Hnatuk. "They get a chance to play with their heroes, and that's just a wonderful push for us to bring the event to life."

The five-hour event paid homage to what has become known as the Logan Boulet Effect. Logan was a 21-year-old defenceman for the Humboldt Broncos and one of 16 people killed in the tragic bus crash. He succumbed to injuries on Apr. 7, 2018. By donating his organs, he saved six lives.

Logan's decision to become a registered donor was inspired by his coach and mentor Ric Suggitt, who was also an organ donor and saved six lives. It was a decision also supported by his parents, Bernadine and Toby Boulet.

Donations were accepted for both the Logan Boulet Endowment Fund and Canadian Transplant Association, and Green Day t-shirts and jerseys were sold at the event, but that wasn't its underlining purpose.

"We're here for awareness, to get kids out in the spring to play some hockey, and start the conversation about organ donations," says Hounslow.

She says one of the best ways to register as a donor is to go online. You can specify what you want and don't want to donate. There's plenty of information and links to register here.

Once you've registered, she says it's extremely important to let your family know your wishes. If you don't, they may hesitate to allow the donation.

"If I'm an organ donor, I will tell my loved ones, please be sure if I pass away to give my organs to someone who needs them. It's so important to speak to your family."

Hnatuk received a kidney transplant about 10 years ago, and shortly afterward the transplant association was formed.

"It's a tremendous gift," he says. "My world went 180 degrees after my transplant. My wife could tell you the changed person I am."

Requiring regular dialysis, his mobility was drastically reduced. He couldn't stray far from home or even consider visiting his family in Saskatchewan.

He's lived in Cochrane for about five years, and in that time has been in regular contact with people about organ transplants.

"I spend a lot of time just talking to people who need to talk to somebody because they are facing this decision."

The pair would like to connect with even more people.

"We would love to meet more people who have been involved in a donation either through a family giving or family receiving a donation," says Hnatuk. "Even a group of friends that's going to help get out of the message and want to talk. Sometimes it's a lot about support."

He says people can contact him via email at greghnat@telus.net or they can reach out through the Canadian Transplant Association website here.

Green Shirt Day organizersA fabulous event was hosted on Green Shirt Day for kids to enjoy street hockey and create awareness of how lives are saved by organ transplants. From left, Michelle Hounslow, her mom Laurel, Jessie McPhail, and Greg Hnatuk.