image from

I really enjoy stories that show a “can do” attitude, especially when that attitude is quiet, kind and caring.  A gentleman from Winnipeg provided just such a story recently with his latest project.

He began in December.  His goal?  To build an outdoor ice surface, along with the bleachers and rink boards made from around 3,000  snow blocks he cut by hand, using mainly a simple hand saw.  That’s it, snow and ice and one man.  In Winnipeg, at least this year, snow and ice are in good supply.  The seating capacity on the snow bleachers is in the hundreds, yes, hundreds!

His attitude is as big as his heart.

If you look back centuries ago, what did they do in Egypt? They built pyramids — big stones … a couple of thousand pounds. This is nothing compared to that.”  Bill Martens

The purpose?  Hockey, which will raise money for four children’s charities.  Did I mention this man has a huge heart to go along with his attitude and determiniation? At least one prominent sponsor is showing support.  Canadian Tire has committed to donate at least $5,000.

Bill Martens isn’t new to big winter projects. Last year, he completed a snow fort and toboggan slide, you know, just because he could and he thought it might be fun.  I’m pretty certain it was.

Why wouldn’t a young guy from Canada enjoy doing this type of stuff in winter?  You’ve got to do something, right? Except there’s another little side story to Mr. Martens.  He’s 69 years young.  He’s a cancer survivor of 5 years and still going strong, even though cancer cross checked him from behind sidelining him for awhile.  It didn’t stop him though.  As a matter of fact, maybe it was even a bit of a catalyst, because once you know what you’ve almost lost, I think a lot of us want to to do even more once we can.  We gain an appreciation of the time we have here and want to do the absolute most we can.  When someone does that, just look at what can be accomplished!

His wife, Grace, put it this way,

He was so, so sick for quite a while, then to see him like this? I can’t even put it into words, what that does to you. It’s really, really awesome.”   Grace Martens

I think it’s pretty awesome too.

Mr. Martens sums it up this way.

Right now I’m just so thankful…. I feel really good. And I could just tackle the world, you know.”  Bill Martens

I’d say that at 69, Bill Martens and his wife Grace are doing a pretty good job of tackling the world and making it a better place along the way.  What do you think?

© 2014 J.Fries/Rise Like Air

Quotes are from the

If you enjoyed this blog you can subscribe by email (just go to the bottom of the page and “click”.  Rise Like Air is also on Facebook.