The signature of 26-year Canadian Tire St. Marys employee Brian Benner will fly — along with signatures from representatives from the nation’s 490 other Canadian Tire stores — above Canadian athletes as they prepare for or wind down from participation in next week’s Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Store managers Don and Michelle Bouwman chose Benner to provide the signature as part of Canadian Tire’s “We All Play For Canada” promotion, which also includes television advertising, Olympic t-shirts for store staff, special products (including a “Team Canada” tool chest), and an in-store “medal count” display through the duration of the Feb. 7-23 Winter Games.
Canadian Tire’s corporate division sent out six-inch by six-inch sections of red or white fabric to the nation’s retail outlets, and each was returned with a signature. They’ll be stitched together into a Maple Leaf flag to fly in “Canada House” at the host city’s Athlete’s Village.
“We are a proud supporter of the Canadian Olympic team because we are passionate about sport, and it has been part of Canadian Tire’s DNA for 90 years,” Don Bouwman commented about the company’s We All Play For Canada initiative.
Asked why Benner’s name was chosen as the St. Marys representative on the Canada House flag, Bouwman said, “we chose a person who has demonstrated common traits and characteristics to those of our Canadian Olympic athletes — in the area of business.” Among those traits, he listed willingness to make sacrifices, years of hard work, a never-give-up attitude, and “understanding that what you put in, you get out.”
Benner, whose son is now an adult, admits he hasn’t always been thrilled with the sports culture that seems to pervade the Canadian Tire St. Marys staff — especially when parents of young athletes ask him to fill their shifts so they can watch the competitions.
Bouwman laughs, saying, “for 26 years, without even realizing it, he’s been supporting sports” by making it possible for parents to cheer on their kids.