Joining numerous other illustrious and generous sponsors, Churchill Wild has donated a Great Ice Bear polar bear trip for two to the Richard Harris “Pay It Forward” Social & Teddy Bear Drive to be held on Saturday, October 29 at 7 p.m. at Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg. Air travel to Churchill will be provided by Calm Air.
The social event is being held in honor of the late Richard Harris, the popular assistant head coach of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who died suddenly on July 26, 2011, at the age of 63. Proceeds from the event will be used to benefit the Heart and Stroke Foundation, KidSport and Football Manitoba.
The Teddy Bear Drive will honour “Richard’s Bear Hugs” and anyone who brings in a new teddy bear will have a chance at a special prize draw. The teddy bears will be donated to local charities.
“We’re very proud to be associated with this event,” said Rick Kemp, Director of Marketing and Communications for Churchill Wild. “Richard Harris was a very special person in our community and we’re honored to be able contribute to the causes that were so dear to him.”
Sanctioned by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, the social will be in true fall football fashion, held indoors and out on the main floor of the Assiniboia Downs grandstand and outside tarmac. Winnipeg Blue Bombers players and personnel will be in attendance early in the evening and there will be a Silent Auction with some very cool items, 50/50 draws, social fare, music and dancing.
Some incredible prizes have already been donated for the event including two tickets to the Grey Cup, signed CFL memorabilia, big screen TVs, a trip for two to Las Vegas, a fishing weekend in Kenora with a guide, autographed footballs from CFL teams and more.
Silent auction prizes donated so far for the event are valued at between $300 and $500, with a grand prize worth over $1,000 from sponsors that include the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Winnipeg Sun, Churchill Wild, Assiniboia Downs, ticketmaster, Citytv, Energy 106 and many more.
The value of a Churchill Wild “Great Ice Bear” adventure is $15,990.
Tickets are $20 and are available through ticketmaster.com or by calling toll free 1 (855) 985-5000. You can also buy tickets at Assiniboia Downs or by calling 885-3330. Only 2,500 tickets will be sold for what promises to be a fabulous event!
Richard Harris was in his sixth season as a defensive line coach with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and his first year as assistant head coach when he died suddenly of a heart attack inside the team complex at Polo Park after a team practice on July 26, 2011.
Born on January 21, 1948 in Shreveport, Louisiana, Richard Drew Harris was an All-American in 1970 with Grambling State University under famed coach Eddie Robinson and was a first round pick (5th overall) in the 1971 NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. Named All-Rookie as a defensive end in 1971, the 6’ 5” Harris spent three years with the Eagles before joining the Chicago Bears for two years, where he was part of running back Walter Payton’s rookie season. Harris ended his playing career with the Seattle Seahawks, playing three years for the Seahawks including their inaugural 1976 season in the NFL.
Harris won three-semi pro championships as a Head Coach in the Northwest Football League, one with the Eastside Express (1989) and two with Puget Sound Jets (1994-95). In 2000, he led the Portland Prowlers of the Indoor Professional Football League to a 13-4 record and a berth in the league championship. He was named the IPFL’s Coach of the Year 2000 before venturing north to the CFL as a defensive line coach with the BC Lions from 2001-2004. After spending the 2005 CFL season with the Ottawa Renegades, Harris began his career with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and over the past six years developed the Blue Bomber defense into one of the most feared units in the CFL.
Perhaps Adam Wazny described Harris best in his story Big Bomber loss, CFL mourns ‘great coach, better man’ which appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press on July 27, 2011.
“Players, both current and former, always point to Harris being the best coach they’ve ever had, but his loss holds a deeper impact for Winnipeg as a whole. He treated people with an unparalleled respect, never once losing sight of an opportunity for a personal connection with someone he would only meet for the first time.”
Also quoted in the story was former Bombers GM Brendan Taman.
“You always hear about players wanting to play for coaches — you always hear that. When that D-line played for Richard in Winnipeg, and they still do it to this day — Doug Brown can verify it more than anybody — they legitimately played for that man.
“Richard was the guy they would walk through a wall for.”
Harris is survived by wife Tami, children Kimberly, Chianti, Jennifer and Michael, grandsons Chandler and Keegan-Michael and granddaughter Aurora.