Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
June 28, 2010
Snyder family blessed for choosing to forgive in son's tragic death
SASKATOON - Dan Snyder was a 25-year-old centre for the Atlanta Thrashers when he was mortally injured in an October 2003 car crash in a car driven by teammate Dany Heatley.
For Graham Snyder, Dan's father, there was a choice to make. "Do we lash out at the driver? Do we seek revenge on the guilty party? Do we forever weep for our losses? The answer to all three of these is, 'No.'"
The Snyder family chose forgiveness.
Even at the funeral, Dan's brother Jake was able to offer forgiveness and assistance.
In a June 10 talk at a Catholic Family Services luncheon in Saskatoon, Snyder quoted Jake's words: "Friends look out for friends, no matter how tough the circumstances. But if you're a friend of Dan's then you're a friend of mine."
The Snyder family immediately started receiving emails, cards and messages supporting them for choosing forgiveness and mercy over revenge and anger.
Heatley eventually pleaded guilty to a number of charges, including second-degree vehicular homicide and speeding. His sentence included fines and community service, and delivering 150 speeches to schools and community groups over three years.
When asked how he was able to forgive the man responsible for his son's death, Graham Snyder said he had learned that "the blessing of forgiveness" is realizing that "we don't get through life alone."
veness is life changing, Snyder said. "Once you have experienced the freedom of letting go of anger and vengeance, you are free to live a more positive life."
He described how the Dan Snyder Memorial Foundation was founded to assist young athletes in the pursuit of their goals, as well as helping in the construction of a multi-use recreational centre in Dan's hometown of Elmira, Ont.
During the 2006-07 hockey season, Graham Snyder and his wife LuAnn visited every NHL city to say "thank you" for the support they received from the hockey community and to raise awareness about several charities supported by NHL players.
Snyder said he often spoke with Dan about his career and how he could choose his response to tough situations.
He pointed to Sami Jo Small, the 2006 Canadian Olympic goalie, on her character after another goaltender was chosen to start in the gold medal game. Small encouraged her teammate and supported her coaches.
"We don't always get to decide what role we play but we do get to decide how we play it," Snyder quoted Small.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.