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Andrew Chiao – 2018

My son, Andrew, is 9 years old. My husband and I vividly remember the day we brought him home from the hospital, and the dreams we built for him in our minds. Within 6 months, we noticed he was not developing like other babies. After countless clinical visits, Andrew was diagnosed with autism at the age of 2.

I was heartbroken, but I was also determined to give Andrew all the experiences of a “normal” childhood. For our family, our love of sports is what connects us to each other and our community. Above all, playing hockey is our ultimate passion, and for as long as I can remember, Andrew has wanted to play hockey too. I tried everything, but no organization could accommodate his extra needs on the ice. As his mother, I saw his enthusiasm and potential; others just saw the extra effort required to include him.

Then 3 years ago, we had an opportunity to enroll Andrew in the Canucks Autism Network (CAN) skating program; we signed him up immediately. It was a breakthrough chance for him to thrive with the adapted coaching he needed.

In 2016, after developing his skills and confidence on the ice with CAN, Andrew joined the Vancouver Orcas – a hockey team for children and youth with autism. CAN provides the joy and excitement of hockey, and other sports, in a way that accommodates the unique needs of each player.

Andrew now has a passion he can share with his teammates and his family. Without CAN, Andrew would still be sitting behind the glass, or up in the stands, watching other children play a sport he so eagerly embraces.

We are just one family, though. With your support, CAN will continue to help children like Andrew realize their dreams and thrive. I would like to thank Wheaton Precious Metals, the West Coast Fishing Club, the Vancouver Canucks, and all the Fishing for Kids organizers and sponsors for helping families with autism – families like mine – push the limits of the possible.

Tina Chiao
2018 Wheaton Precious Metals Champion Mother