Over 1,800 kids playing hockey in 2012 through the programMARKHAM, ON, Dec. 3, 2012 /CNW/ - Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. is happy to announce today that in its first year, the Hyundai Hockey Helpers (HHH) program raised more than $420,000 to help under-resourced Canadian children play organised hockey. Run in partnership with KidSport Canada, a not-for-profit organization providing financial assistance to kids aged 18 and under, HHH aims to lower the financial barriers often associated with organized sport by subsidizing hockey registration fees and equipment costs for deserving children who could not otherwise afford to play. HHH was launched in September with a donation from Hyundai Canada and its dealers to provide grants for at least 1,000 Canadian youth this year. In fact, the initial contribution was able to help 1,817 children get in the game in 2012. As part of the program, Hyundai dealerships across Canada organized grassroots fundraising initiatives in their local communities throughout the month of October to help HHH fund new applications from deserving children. During "Hyundai Hockey Helpers Month", Hyundai Canada and its dealer network were able to raise over $420,000 in donations that will go directly to KidSport to help more kids. Nav Bhatia's Mississauga Hyundai dealership, located near Toronto, was the country's top fundraiser with a total of $15,000. "I couldn't be more proud of our dealers," said Steve Kelleher, President and CEO of Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. "As a direct result of their efforts, we'll be able to make a profound difference in the lives of thousands more deserving children by helping them play hockey. I can personally attest to the positive influence playing hockey can have in the life of a child. It's my hope that in the coming years, Hyundai Hockey Helpers will give many more children the same opportunity I had. I sincerely thank everyone involved for their hard work and dedication." Dawn MacDonald, KidSport Partnership Lead and Ontario Executive Director, shared Kelleher's pride. "KidSport's mission is to ensure no kids are left on the sidelines. Working with Hyundai, we've been able to provide the opportunity for thousands of under-resourced children to enjoy the benefits of participation in organized sport." Also on the team are the Subban family, charged with helping promote Hyundai Hockey Helpers as ambassadors for the program. School principal Karl Subban, father of Montreal Canadiens Defenseman P.K. Subban and Boston Bruins draft pick Malcolm Subban, knows first-hand the financial strain hockey can place on low-income families. When his kids were young, Karl worked multiple jobs and endured an exhausting schedule to ensure they could play. Despite the cost and commitment required, he recognized that hockey could teach invaluable life skills. Today, as a principal in a low-income Toronto neighbourhood, Karl works hard to engage his students in constructive after-school programs and sports. "We've often said that better kids build better communities. Involvement in organised sport is one of the best ways to positively influence a child's development," noted Karl. Having seen the sacrifices made by his family growing up, P.K. Subban agrees. "Hyundai Hockey Helpers reduces the financial strain on under-resourced families with children who want to play hockey. I definitely wouldn't be the same person I am today without the game and the generosity of the communities we relied on for equipment and support. I'm thrilled that we're giving kids from across Canada the chance to get on the ice." HYUNDAI AUTO CANADA CORP. Hyundai Auto Canada, established in 1983 and headquartered in Markham, Ontario, is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea. Hyundai vehicles are distributed throughout Canada by Hyundai Auto Canada and are sold and serviced through more than 200 dealerships nationwide. SOURCE Hyundai Auto Canada Corp.