SANTAS: Bobby Singh enlists Lions Travis Lulay, Paul McCallum to don red suit for charity

STEPHANIE IP
VANCOUVER DESI

Alyssa Singh, 9, tells Santa, a.k.a. BC Lions QB Travis Lulay, what she would like for Christmas Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 at Girlz Rock Boutique in Vancouver. Jason Payne/PNG

Everyone’s had their photo done with an awkward mall Santa — but not everyone’s had their photo taken with these two football-playing, Grey Cup-winning Santas.

B.C. Lions quarterback Travis Lulay and kicker Paul McCallum will each take turns donning the red suit this weekend at Kitsilano’s Girlz Rock Boutique for a Photos with Santa fundraiser.

A professional photographer will be on hand to snap photos of fans and the general public posing with Lulay or McCallum in exchange for a cash donation.

All proceeds will go to The Province’s Empty Stocking Fund, which helps 27 groups across B.C. support struggling families at Christmas time.

Girlz Rock Boutique, a tween clothing and accessory store, is owned by Alexis Singh, wife of former B.C. Lions player Bobby Singh. When Alexis and her business partner began organizing the holiday photo fundraiser to benefit the 94th annual fund, Bobby Singh suggested calling up some of his CFL friends to help out.

“We were just going to use a regular Santa so I said, ‘Well, I’ve got some connections. Let me make some calls,’ ” he said, adding he hopes it will attract more donations. “Lo and behold, Travis said he’d do it and then Paul said he’d do it. Those guys are definitely good friends of mine and … they’ve got big hearts.”

It was a Christmas miracle how smoothly the event came together on such short notice — both Lulay and McCallum confirmed only earlier this week that they’d be able to participate.

“Travis has a really busy schedule — so for him to say, ‘yes’ — it shows what kind of guy he is,” Singh said of the quarterback, adding both players are volunteering their personal time since the event is not organized through the Lions organization.

Singh did, however, credit Wally Buono, the team’s general manager and former coach, for instilling a sense of community pride in his players.

“The one thing I noticed is that he always had a community relationship and made sure the team was involved. The fans appreciate it. It’s like a family,” Singh said of the strong emphasis on charity found in professional sport. “I think most athletes like to give back, and Wally’s done a good job encouraging it.”

Singh doesn’t need a photo to remind him of his favourite Christmas memories. His mother-in-law, who passed away three years ago, once took the whole family on an Alaskan cruise as a Christmas present. His three kids — Bobby Jr., 13; Kameron, 11; and Alyssa, 9 — thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

“They loved looking for bears,” Singh said with a laugh.

The fundraiser takes place Friday and Saturday at Girlz Rock Boutique at 2652 Arbutus St. Lulay will pose for photos as Santa on Friday between 4 and 7 p.m., while McCallum will play Santa on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition, 20 per cent of all sales at the boutique on those two days will go toward the Empty Stocking Fund.

The Empty Stocking Fund collects cash donations, which are then administered by the United Way, and help fund 27 different Christmas bureaus and community service groups across the province.





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