BY LINDSAY BRISCOE
“Outdoor settings, indoor settings, open fields, or a lake. It didn’t matter to Brent,” Fred Knight said of his former colleague Brent Bennett who served as an OPP officer at the Prince Edward County for 15 years before being promoted to staff sergeant at the Red Lake detachment in 2001. “For him, sports and athletics were the right choice for kids who were so-called bored and did not know what to do with themselves.”
Knight was addressing a crowd gathered for dinner after the inaugural Brent Bennett Classic held in September 2014. A total of $7,200 was raised on the day of the event after which the Canadian Tire Jumpstart Program donated an additional $3,600. Of the $10,800 total, $3,340 made its way to the local Brent Bennett Cops and Kids initiative.
The Brent Bennett Cops and Kids’ first event—a minor hockey skills camp—will take place Friday Jan. 30 (PD day) from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Cochenour Arena. Local police as well as the English River Miners will be on hand to assist. Sign-up will be available at the Cochenour Arena, Jan. 28 as well as starting at 8:30 a.m. the morning of the camp.
The plan is to host a number of sports and recreation activities under the initiative’s umbrella as a way to provide children and youth in the area with something fun and educational to look forward to and also to help foster good relations between community members and the police—something that was very important to Bennett.
“To Brent; if you put a stick or a ball in your hand or grabbed a pole and a line, or put some blades or a ball on your foot, you could have some fun. Part of all this was also an education to the young, in Brent’s mind, a chance to learn from within about the rules, about teammates, about what it takes to win, and how losing—as hard as it may seem—can build character too. Brent saw his own involvement as a coach, manager, player, and parent as a way to set an example to not only the kids of his beloved community but as a way to get to know adults and parents on a personal level. When you are a policeman this is not always easy, but when you’re Brent Bennett you make it happen because it’s what’s important to you,” Knight added in his speech.
“We are very fortunate that the memory of a truly committed individual and community member of not only Prince Edward County but also of Red Lake can continue…It’s only fitting because that’s the kind of guy Brent was and will be remembered as.”
Many local community groups have provided support to help make the very first Brent Bennett Cops and Kids event a success for which the Bennett family is very grateful.