SHESHATSHIU, N.L. - Churchill Falls to Sheshatshiu is just shy of a 325 km trip.
It takes about four hours to drive and Sebastian Benuen figures it’ll take him about eight days to walk.
Benuen, his grandson Aries, and few friends are walking and running starting tomorrow, August 29, to raise money to send Aries to an elite hockey school in Rockland, Ontario.
Aries Benuen, 14, has been a young player to watch for years, playing in tournaments in Quebec and Ontario. In past interviews, Aries told SaltWire he wants to play in the NHL someday, specifically for the Washington Capitals.
For the 2019-2020 academic year, he attended the Canadian International Hockey Academy (CIHA) and hopes to be able to go again. His grandfather Sebastian said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a big impact, with Aries having to come home in March when the school was closed. Family finances have also taken a hit, Sebastian said, and they don’t have the money to send Aries back to the school.
“He keeps asking me when he’s going back to school and we don’t have it,” he said. “It’s a lot of money. The way this pandemic turned this world upside down and impacted me financially, that’s the reason why I’m doing this.”
Sebastian said Aries has been travelling and living away for hockey since he was 12 years old and they hope people can help his realize his dream. They set up a GoFundMe page for Aries and Sebastian said support has been great so far.
The small group is leaving Churchill Falls at 8 a.m., Aug. 29, and Sebastian said anyone interested can feel free to join them on the journey. They will be alternating between running and walking, Sebastian said, and camping out each night under the stars.
Sebastian is an avid runner, but this is his first really long walk. They’re hoping to do 50-60 km a day and will end at their home in Sheshatshiu.
This isn’t the first time Sebastian has gone the extra mile to help out his grandson, moving to Happy Valley-Goose Bay and Gatineau, QC for his grandson’s passion.
Germaine Benuen, Sebastian’s sister, helped organize the fundraiser and said her brother would do whatever it took to help Aries.
“He has done a lot,” she said. “A lot of people are supporting him for this, people are stopping me and donating for them.”
She said people in Sheshatshiu always come together to help one another and they hope that support can grow to help get Aries back to school.
Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram