Darren Ford started JetsOwner.com back in 2003, as a simple blog where people could go to have the conversation about trying to get the NHL back into Winnipeg. Ford never imagined the site would go on to become so popular, but he also never imagined how much criticism he would face.
“A lot of people thought I was a nut job.” said Ford, "I couldn't understand why some people were so critical-I still don't. It wasn't a controversial issue. It's just a game. It brings out passion in people on all sides of the spectrum. I took a good beating, that's for sure.” Darren was even mocked by the Winnipeg Sun when he wrote a letter to the editor claiming why Winnipeg deserved a team and the editor replied, "Don't hold your breath Darren."
One of the criticisms that Ford heard was that if the NHL returned, then kids would not be able to go to games. So when the NHL did return in 2011, he decided that he would take this idea that kids would not be able to attend games and do something about it. What Ford did was start Jake's Tickets, his own foundation that supports the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre (WASAC) by “donating tickets to get kids to attend NHL hockey games that would not normally be able to do so.”
Ford thought if he was going to silence his critics he could at least do it in a way that could benefit kids. “That was the main reason I brainstormed the idea in the first place. I thought-wouldn't it be cool to silence the critics in a positive way.”
Ford is proud that he has been able to team up with WASAC and loves the work that they do. “They already run these fantastic hockey camps with kids from three different school divisions in the city, whereby the kids get used hockey equipment, a ride to the rink, lunch and hockey skills camp once a week. Now through Jake's Ticket's some of the kids are selected to attend Jets games with a parent or guardian.”
The reaction that Ford has got from some of the kids has been far beyond what he expected. “It has been overwhelming. “I have dozens of pieces of artwork, cards and letters from the kids.”
After the Jets returned Ford decided to end the run of the JetsOwner blog but is still hard at work blogging about his beloved Jets as the moderator of the Winnipeg Free Press' Jets blog The JetStream.