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Warming Hearts with a Sheet of Ice

It's not a mirage. That is an ice hockey rink in the front yard.

Anyone who drives along the 400 block of Kings Highway West during the peak of winter knows they are not hallucinating—there really is an ice skating rink in John Beckett's front yard.

Beckett and a friend, Jeff Fehr, have spent four hours each January for the past 11 years building a rink. At night, flood lights illuminate the yard for skaters to enjoy it. It only last a few weeks, but the memories of it last a lifetime, he says.

"It started with a small rink in the driveway and eventually grew into a rink that covers the entire front yard," Beckett said. "Jeff and I can build it in four hours and it takes over 8,000 gallons of water to fill."

Beckett's son, Carson, is a freshman at Haddonfield Memorial High School and plays on Team Comcast, a AAA youth ice hockey team, which is currently nationally ranked. Carson started playing hockey at age 4.

"I guess I would have a putting green in the back yard if my kids played golf," John Beckett said. All three of his children are avid ice skaters.

The temporary rink was the inspiration for a community service project in which kids get a chance to help other kids.

"Two years ago my neighbor, John Costanza called and asked me to come over," Beckett recalled. "Costanza told me about an idea he had that would introduce the sport of ice skating and hockey to youth who would normally not have an opportunity to learn to skate.

"We sat for hours and came up with a plan to work with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties and introduce youth involved with their program to ice skating and hockey. After many hours of preparation, buying equipment, team jerseys and finding a rink to rent, we came up with a 10-week program that we run in May and June where players involved in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League teach first-time skaters the basics and eventually, the game of hockey."

Although the ice in his own rink is long melted by then, Beckett still promotes his love of hockey long after there's frost in the air.

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Meghan January 29, 2013 at 04:46 PM
How awesome is this!
DARCEY PANCARI January 29, 2013 at 08:27 PM
WHAT A GREAT BROTHER I HAVE TO DO THIS AND NOT JUST FOR HIS OWN FAMILY, BUT FOR ALL TO ENJOY!!! THIS IS A SUPER ARTICLE ABOUT YOU. WHAT A BIG HEART!! WE NEED TO GET THERE...LOVE YA, DARCEY
Brian Kelly January 29, 2013 at 08:30 PM
Cool in every sense of the word. Great job guys and let's go Flyers.
Maryann Campling January 29, 2013 at 10:37 PM
Cathy, John: Great article. Copper and i will be over with our skates!
Judy Greenberg January 29, 2013 at 10:54 PM
What a wonderful idea! You inspire us all with taking such an active step to help others, while having fun at the same time! Way to go!
Jeremiah Wright January 29, 2013 at 11:37 PM
Well done Mr Beckett. And some props to the town for leaving it be, as I'm sure it violates some obscure authoritarian regulation. .........(be sure to keep away any slip & fall lawyers' kids).
Tom Beckett January 30, 2013 at 12:17 AM
DITTOS DARCEY! WHAT A COOL FATHER AND BROTHER... TOM
Tom Beckett January 30, 2013 at 12:23 AM
DITTOS DARCEY! WHAT A COOL FATHER AND BROTHER! TOM
Maryann Campling January 30, 2013 at 11:11 AM
Cathy, John: Great article....Copper and I will be over with our skates!
Shana Marshall January 30, 2013 at 03:48 PM
Great guy...great article!
paul marshall January 31, 2013 at 01:31 AM
Paul Marshall says NICE GOING!!!!!!!!!!!!

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