Jim & Shana Perkins make Ottawa a better, more inclusive place every single day. As the founders of the Capital City Condors, they offer over one hundred Ottawa area kids with developmental disabilities the opportunity to play hockey in a safe, supportive environment tailored to their needs.
Jim and Shana started the Capital City Condors from scratch, and have steadily grown it over the past ten years, providing a sense of joy and belonging not just to the children who might never otherwise have had the opportunity to be part of a team, but to their proud families as well. Jim and Shana are not just kind and generous human beings, they are the type of people who form the building blocks of a great community, and for that they are truly two of #150GreatPeople in Ottawa. Here, they answer the questionnaire:
What makes Ottawa special to you?
Ottawa is a place of new beginnings for us. We were married here, started our family here, and have called it home for over 20 years now. But the thing that always makes a place most special is the people! We’ve been blessed to meet the most incredible people here in Ottawa, people who have become like family to us, and have literally shaped and deepened our lives.
What do you love most about living and working in Ottawa?
Again, we’d have to say it comes down to people and relationships. We love the little street we live on, and are thankful for great and friendly neighbours. We love living in Canada’s Capital City, a place that has much to offer, but isn’t so huge that you lose the closeness of tight-knit community. We love that many here have tremendously generous natures, and really do care about making this an even better place to live. The opportunities to meet with heart and soul genuine people, to consider all that we have to be grateful for, and then to see that gratitude turned into generosity, we love those moments.
The work that you do helps to make Ottawa a better place – why is this important to you?
We’re beyond thankful that so many families in the Special Needs Community have welcomed us into their incredible lives, and enabled us to learn and grow with them, sharing in their triumphs and struggles. They’ve blessed us with their amazing kids! We can’t begin to describe the perspective they have each brought to our lives and to our own family. We get to work each day with perhaps the greatest group of heroes in this city, people who brighten up every day, and bring out something good in all the rest of us. We love seeing these kids who face significant challenges, be over-comers, defying the odds, and experiencing things they were told would never be a part of their lives. We love seeing the smiles on their faces, not to mention the smiles they bring to all the rest of us!
You give back to the Ottawa community in various ways – is there one Ottawa-related achievement of which you are most proud?
Wow, that’s a hard one. We were thrilled to host the Special Hockey International Tournament here in Ottawa in 2015, which saw over 1600 special athletes from across Canada, from New Jersey to California, and even from London, England, spend 5 fun-filled days together playing hockey and making new friends. That was amazing for sure. But maybe more meaningful are those moments we get to share with a player as he or she sees their first hockey jersey with their name on the back, and their favourite number, and then to hear how proud they were to wear it to school on jersey day, just like all the other kids. Maybe it’s that moment standing beside a Mom who chokes up a bit as she watches her child out on the ice, and says, “I never thought I’d get to be a hockey Mom.” Maybe it’s those moments when a young person on the ice moves their legs and begins to propel themselves forward, something the doctors said they’d never do. Or maybe it’s the hug you get from a player who just a few months earlier couldn’t make eye contact with you, but now wraps you up in a squeeze. Maybe it’s seeing student volunteers giving their time every week, smiling as they leave the rink, talking about how these kids are changing their lives. Maybe it’s seeing an NHL player and his young family embrace these amazing kids and their families, and thank them for shaping his life. Or maybe it’s the size of the smiles, or the frequent “I love you’s”. These don’t really have anything to do with us accomplishing anything, it’s about being blessed enough, to be close enough to those we’re really most proud of.
What do you hope for Ottawa in the future?
We hope and believe that Ottawa will continue to be a city that prioritizes the well-being of those with special needs. The support we have witnessed here has been remarkable, and has become a benchmark we proudly reference when speaking with those in other cities who are considering starting up programs similar to the Condors. We deeply appreciate the support from the city, and how they understand that what happens in a special community like this is so much #biggerthanhockey – it’s about people’s lives being encouraged and enriched.
Ottawa is a great city – a fun city – and a fantastic place to call home!