EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

August 24, 2013

Newest Celtic hosts needy kids at Canobie

Olynyk hits it off with fans

By Bill Burt

---- — SALEM, N.H. — Before entering Canobie Lake Park for his first official charitable endeavor as a member of the Boston Celtics, first-round draft pick Kelly Olynyk held court with a dozen or so media members, mostly talking about the start of his career in the NBA.

The seven-footer out of Gonzaga University gave a lot of canned answers that Celtics fans will no doubt love to hear: “It’s great to be a Celtic’’ ... “I love Boston’’ ... “The fans are passionate.”

But within 15 minutes, the Toronto native was yukking it up after riding the “Policy Pond Log Plume’’ — another way of saying “you’re going to get very wet!” — along with 26 boys and girls who participate in the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children summer program.

“Man, that was awesome!” Olynyk said soon after getting drenched on the ride.

He wasn’t alone. The faces of all of the children from the Boston area were just as awestruck during their day at the park, which donated tickets and meals to the kids.

“Wow!” said a 10-year-old, with water on her face and covering the green Celtics T-shirt all of the children received. “I want to do it again!”

Olynyk was getting a first-hand look at what the Celtics do as well as any professional franchise in New England, which is to help the needy. In this case, it was boys and girls who have been in and out of foster care, some who have been abused and neglected.

“I don’t know if (Kelly Olynyk) understands what this means to the kids here,” said Mary McGeown, president and CEO of the MSPCC. “This is special, something all of them will never forget.”

McGeown said that one 7-year-old boy couldn’t read before the summer started. Yesterday he was shouting out words he could read from signs all over the park.

This particular MSPCC program, which is co-sponored by the Celtics Shamrock Foundation, runs during the summer, giving the children a “stable, safe haven and another set of eyes during the summer months” when some parents or guardians are working, said McGeown.

Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca, who is on the board of the MSPCC, was there yesterday and he was not afraid to take in some of Canobie Lake Park’s most thrilling rides.

“The Celtics are always there,” said McGeown. “They’re here now, but they’re also here when the cameras aren’t around.”