Family gives its time to the game
by Nicholas Pescod|04 JAN 2023
Volunteers Andrew Brown and Lori Fraser in Moncton.
photo: Daniel St Louis
It was mid-December when Andrew Brown received an email asking him to register as a volunteer for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.

“I didn't know what it was about,” says Andrew in an email interview. “I asked my wife Lori what it was about.”

Andrew hadn’t expected to receive such an email and as a deaf man, he never thought he would be allowed to volunteer at such a high-profile event. Once he realized the email was no joke, but merely just his wife’s way of surprising him, he was elated. 

“I was thrilled,” says Andrew.

Andrew’s wife, Lori Fraser, who is also deaf, says she decided to surprise her husband by signing him up as a volunteer because he’s a caring man who loves the game of hockey and helping people. 

“He's a strong Christian. He loves doing things to help out, despite being deaf,” Lori says in an email interview. “He likes to make people happy. He also has a passion for hockey.”

Lori says her husband was like a “little boy” when he realized he was going to be volunteering at the World Juniors. 

“He was confused when he received the email to register to volunteer for the World Juniors and he got excited but didn't think he'd get in because he's deaf,” Lori says. “He was like a little boy on Christmas morning.”

Volunteering a family affair

Since Dec. 27, Andrew, Lori and their 17-year-old son Daniel have made the 20-minute drive from their home in Riverside, N.B., to the Avenir Centre in Moncton on game days, where they hand out and foam fingers and direct fans to where they need to be. 

“It’s been a great experience, being able to do what anyone can do and prove that I am not dumb. I may not be able to hear or talk but I can still do everything else,” says Andrew. 

“I am a strong Christian and I always love to volunteer and to give back. I love making people happy,” says Lori.

The volunteer experience for me was amazing. Everyone was really nice and helpful with everything,” adds Daniel.

Volunteering at the World Juniors has also brought the family closer together. 

“I don't see my son as often because of my work hours, I work evenings and he is in school during the daytime,” Andrew says. “We get to spend quality time together and volunteering is fun.”

“It is a great experience to volunteer altogether and that we get to spend quality time, too. I work all night as well, I barely see Andrew and Daniel, so it was really nice for us to be together,” says Lori. 

“Interpreting for my dad was really good and everyone respected that he was deaf and thank him so much for helping out,” adds Daniel. 

Although the experience has largely been positive, because both Andrew and Lori are deaf, it has also had its challenges. Fortunately, Daniel, who was granted an exception to volunteer as a 17-year-old (the minimum age for volunteers is 18), has been by their side to provide interpretation for his mom and dad when needed.

“It is a challenge because no one knows I am deaf and they come up to me asking questions but thankfully, my son was with me and helped me out. The fans were like ‘Oh, you're deaf.’ Many were nice and respectful but then others were rude and said, ‘Oh, never mind,’ and walked away. I am used to it,” says Andrew.

“Andy and I had a hard time finding jobs with pay because we're deaf, but it's easier when it comes to volunteering. We can prove them wrong and that we're able to do anything. The only thing we can't do is communicate by phone … but we still enjoy volunteering because it's fun and keeps us busy,” adds Lori.

Lori’s volunteering efforts have not gone unnoticed. During the game between Finland and the United States on New Year’s Eve in Moncton, she was recognized by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

“I felt extra special, and it made me feel good and very proud of myself,” Lori says about being recognized during the game. “A big bonus for us was getting jackets, sweaters, shirts, hats, gloves, scarves … it was so unexpected, and it made me feel proud.”

"Lori is the one who always encourages the deaf to volunteer, but many don't want to because it’s hard to communicate with hearing people. Lori is deaf too, but nothing stops her and she always tells me not to be afraid to go out there," says Andrew.

At the end of the day, Andrew, Lori and Daniel say they would volunteer at a similar event again and encourage others, particularly those from the deaf community, to take part.
Husband and wife volunteers Andrew Brown, left, and Lori Fraser hand out foam fingers at the Avenir Centre in Moncton. Brown and Fraser are both deaf and have been volunteering at each game in Moncton.
photo: Daniel St Louis