HELENA — This weekend the Helena Ice Arena is hosting the 6th annual Wyatt Winfield Memorial 3v3 Hockey Tournament.
The tournament helps raise money for the Wyatt Winfield “Be Tough” Memorial Foundation. Prior to this weekend’s tournament, the foundation had raised about $70,000, amounting in 43 scholarships for those pursuing trade school.
Winfield was a welder and metal fabricator.
“He just loved building things. And I can say that that started at a very young age. I mean, as a four year old, he was building trailers to drag behind his tricycle. And he just always had that hands-on work ethic. And that isn't always appreciated, I don't think in our society. And so again, I just really want to support kids that do the hands-on sorts of trades,” Brigitte Bellefleur, Winfield’s mother, said.
His foundation name is extremely personal.
“After his accident that was the last thing he said to his friends, was “be tough”. That was his spirit, he was very very kind but he was just one of the toughest kids you’d meet. In terms of physical strength, he was small. Physical strength and also work ethic I think the ‘be tough’ meant work hard. Be the best at what you decide to be. And, he’s my son but of course I love that he balanced that with kindness, he was just a very nice young man,” Bellefleur said.
Playing for the Bighorns and for coach Scott Cunningham was Winfield’s end goal in hockey. He started skating at the age of two, and was playing hockey by four. His first draw to the rink was the zamboni.
He grew up playing hockey in Helena, then spent a few years in Butte, who had a more competitive team at the time. He came back and reached his goal of playing for the Bighorns under coach Cunningham.
45 teams signed up for this year’s tournament, with about 10 people per team.
Winfield’s friend and teammate, Cody Blom, helps with the tournaments and foundation.
“Yeah, I think the awesome thing is just having that opportunity for all of us to reconnect and to honor why it's legacy. And just bring the spirit of sports and togetherness and friends, and just provide one awesome event that allows everyone to get together and kind of celebrate his life while having fun playing hockey and reconnecting, telling old stories and just having a good time,” he said.
The tournament will continue to be important to Winfield’s family and friends. His mother hopes that his legacy can continue to teach others.
“Hard work, kindness. I've been really blessed to have a number of people come to me after his passing and tell me stories of how he stood up for them in difficult times, under difficult situations. And I just, I'm so proud of him. And I feel when I tell those stories, it might plant that seed for other people to think the same way,” she said.
This weekend’s tournament is expected to bring in around $30,000 with the help of the community and their sponsors. You can donate to the Wyatt Winfield “Be Tough” Memorial Foundation through Venmo at @WWBTMF-WWBTMF.