Little did Todd Churchill know when he had an idea for a small backyard skating rink last summer with ad slots for his favourite charities just how big a success it would eventually become.

Todd and his wife Kimberly, the proud parents of two boys, live in Portugal Cove-St. Philip, just outside of St, John’s, Newfoundland. Their younger son, 23-month-old Carter, has battled health issues since birth, and has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and acute hearing impairment.

Following the diagnosis, Todd and his wife became involved with fundraising for local organizations, including Easter Seals NL, Rainbow Riders and the Mazol Shriners — the charities whose support and resources have become invaluable to the family. He tells NTV’s Pam Parsons they also focused on Canadian Hard of Hearing Association.

As Churchill explained to CBC News, their family wanted to feel like they were making some impact.

"As any parent will tell you, It's a very helpless feeling," he said. "You want to do something and this is what my wife and I have decided to do, to throw ourselves into charities associated with his conditions."

And then, it got personal. Todd had previously built a smaller skating rink for recreational purposes, and he thought it was time to make the dream a little larger, complete with advertising space with all revenue heading to the charities. Kimberly also got on board with Carter's Cupcakes, a baked goods company that donates 25 per cent of all proceeds to local children's charities.

With so many people requesting funds for charity, Todd not only wanted to “get donations but also give the company some enticement in terms of advertising.”

Todd designed and built the 95’ x 46’ outdoor ice hockey rink last fall on his 1-1/4 acre lot for use this winter. What started as $200 donations for ads on a board quickly turned into a request for spots for in-ice logos. The Churchills' initial goal of $8,000 has already been surpassed, and to date, they have raised nearly $26,000.

SEE: Images of the Churchills' amazing backyard rink. Story continues below:

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  • Reason For The Rink: Under Construction

    A cross-section of the boards for the 95’ x 46’ outdoor ice hockey rink Todd Churchill built in his backyard.

  • Reason For The Rink: Under Construction

    Another cross-section of the boards showing advertisers branding.

  • Reason For The Rink: Layout

    Close-up of a layout check mark in the backyard.

  • Reason For The Rink: Layout

    Long shot of the ice rink in backyard showing the breadth of the project layout.

  • Reason For The Rink: Trial Fit

    Initial attempts to lay the foundation of the rink.

  • Reason For The Rink: Trial Fit

    Fitting the panels to make the enclosure complete.

  • Reason For The Rink: Trial Fit

    The finished enclosure

  • Reason For The Rink: Finished Rink

    Close-up of the finished rink highlighting the details of the project.

  • Reason For The Rink: Finished Rink

    Long shot of the finished 95’ x 46’ outdoor ice hockey rink Todd Churchill built in his backyard.

  • Reason For The Rink: Finished Rink

    View of the outdoor ice hockey as evening falls.

  • Reason For The Rink: Finished Rink

    A closer look at the details of the outdoor ice hockey as evening falls.

  • Reason For The Rink: First Blizzard

    A dim view of the rink during the blizzard in St, John’s, Newfoundland on January 10-12, 2013.

  • Reason For The Rink: First Blizzard

    Cleaning up on January 12, 2013 after the 3-day blizzard.

  • Reason For The Rink: First Blizzard

    A 95’ x 46’ outdoor ice hockey rink takes a long time to be resurfaced.

  • Reason For The Rink: Official Launch

    The newly resurfaced ice hockey rink is ready for a game.

  • Reason For The Rink: Official Launch

    Official launch of the Muckers Winter Classic between HMP and Media All Stars on January 19, 2013.

  • Reason For The Rink: Official Launch

    Preparing for the day's event.

  • Reason For The Rink: Official Launch

    A scene from the Muckers Winter Classic on January 19, 2013.

  • Reason For The Rink: Official Launch

    Muckers Winter Classic officially launched with the first game between HMP and Media All Stars on January 19, 2013.

  • Reason For The Rink: Official Launch

    HMP and Media All Stars teams christened the ice on January 19, 2013 at the official opening of the Muckers Winter Classic.

Building and maintaining a backyard rink is hard work, but it's a labour of love for Churchill, who admits to knowing little about the charities before Carter’s connection.

“I viewed it as a way to do fundraising in a unique kind of way,” he explained to The Huffington Post Canada.

On Saturday, Jan 19, Churchill held his grand opening, featuring the Muckers Winter Classic, hosted by HMP, playing against The Media All Stars.

Churchill told The Huffington Post that response has been overwhelming. "There have been so many requests that it will be booked for the next 10 years easily,” Churchill said.

And as for Carter's progress, the toddler is making great improvements in his therapy sessions at the local children's hospital in St. John's.

“Every day he surprises us a little,” Churchill said, “Every day he's showing little glimpses of moving in the right direction which is promising for us.”

Although the family look forward to some much-deserved rest in the spring, Carter’s success encourages his parents to continue their focus on fundraising for the remainder of the year.

For more information about Todd’s project and how you can donate, you can visit his website, Reason For The Rink, and follow him on Twitter at @Reason4TheRink.

Also on HuffPost:


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