PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — On what would have been his 85th Birthday, Mayor Jim Kenney honored former Flyers owner Ed Snider’s legacy by proclaiming January 6th as “Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation Day in Philadelphia.

To mark the day, the foundation invited the public to take part in free activities being held at the city’s 5-public skating rinks, or to take in a youth hockey tournament at the Simons Recreation Center. While the Snider Youth Hockey Foundation has helped the Flyers’ popularity, Mayor Kenney says it’s work goes far beyond that…

“You know, only guys who look like me were wearing Flyers gear. Now kids from every neighborhood are, and every neighborhood has access to year-round athletics, and year-round homework help, and good interaction with positive adults.”

That interaction and mentorship is a tremendous program for the city’s youth according to the mayor.

“Provide services, after school services, computer access services, mentorship. Just getting kids off the street in the winter, out of the cold, into the rink – I just think it’s fabulous.”

Foundation President Scott Tharp says the program was initially started to help combat rising drop out rates in the city, a key goal to this day

“Using hockey as the hook to gain and hold the attention of our kids so we could engage them in larger life lessons and supplemental academic activities that would keep them on track for on time graduation.”

The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation currently serves more than 3,000 inner-city boys and girls, and Tharp says the program mentors kids from “crayons through college,” meaning those services remain available until children become young adults.

Many alumni of the Foundation make their way back as workers and coaches, and some go on to play hockey at the collegiate level.

Tharp says he’s sure that one day a kid from the program will make it to the NHL, and hopefully he’d lace up his skates for the orange and black while calling the Wells Fargo Center home.

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