He traded in his retail job so he could give all kids a chance to play
Job Title: Chief Revenue Officer, Free Play for Kids
Sonny Sekhon had what he thought was the perfect job. For over a decade, he was the general manager of Edmonton’s flagship Henry Singer store, helping to clothe what he calls some of the “superstars” of Edmonton.
But, when his son, Banner, was born, he thought about what the job meant to him. And it led to what he calls one of the hardest conversations he’s ever had, with Fred and Jordan Singer. He decided to leave his post.
“I’ve had the benefit of helping superstar people,” says Sekhon. “And one thing they would always say is that they wished they had spent more time, in the early days, with their little ones. You make an extra deal, you make five extra grand, 20 years later, what’s that really worth when your kids are grown?”
Sekhon has been a long-time volunteer, and now board member, with the famous Brick Invitational Hockey Tournament, held annually at West Edmonton Mall. With an extensive file of contacts from his time as a clothier, he moved into a revenue-generating role with Free Play for Kids, a program that offers after-school childcare through free sports programming to families in need. During the school year, coaches and mentors travel to 24 different schools to introduce kids to a variety of sports.
After a major shortfall last December cut Free Play for Kids’ budget in half, he was able to raise $100,000 in new funds, mainly from auto dealers. He’s helped bring in $600,000 in annual funding from the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation, and deepened the organization’s relationship with the Oilers, most notably with Free Play Ambassador Darnell Nurse.
“In some cases, families have left war-torn Syria or Afghanistan with nothing. We see the emotion and the joy with the parents, because their kids are safely able to kick a ball around. I don’t know if I’d ever be in a position to financially write a cheque to make a difference. For me, putting my sweat equity into it and making partnerships that continue to grow, to give those opportunities to kids, to change sport, it’s awesome.”
Which is your go-to Christmas movie?
13%Miracle on 34th Street
20%A Nightmare Before Christmas
4%Jingle All the Way
And Sekhon hasn’t shed the retail bug. He still makes cameo appearances at Henry Singer.