David Weiss was a little boy when he decided that all he ever wanted was to have a rink in his backyard where he could play during the winter months.
Years later, when he was able to, he created a space that his wife Elise and many visitors call The Rink of Dreams.
The entrepreneur and philanthropist who lives in the Armour Heights neighborhood of Toronto is a loving husband and father of three who loves the game of hockey and wanted to bring his love for the game to his family and the community, ultimately making his dream come true. David describes that after a move to a house that had a large backyard that backed onto a ravine, he decided to begin undertaking an idea.
At the time, he didn’t realize this idea would take up so much time or energy, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. Initially, it became a backyard rink that his children and some of their friends utilized. The Weiss’ had no ulterior motives, not wanting any publicity or recognition.
However, one day Elise took some photos of the space that were innocently sent to a media outlet, where afterwards life would change for the better.
It became apparent that the space they have was something of an anomaly. It was something that was rarely seen before. They discovered that when you post something online, it has the ability to travel fast and that many different eyeballs are watching.
People from all over Canada, the USA, and Internationally reached out to David and Elise to inquire about their rink. Molson Coors exclaimed, “What you’re doing for the community is phenomenal!”
Pizza Pizza, Hockey Canada, Heinz, and Kraft soon followed, wanting to become affiliated with the rink. Larger media companies got word of the Rink of Dreams and began to contact them to see what the fuss was about. The National Hockey League and their executives flew from Manhattan to see the rink to determine whether there was a possibility of collaboration.
While David and Elise were excited about the corporations that contacted them, their goal was to help those in need of a space to skate. It became a community rink where strangers would connect.
A space where parents would reach out, asking about the availability of the rink due to their children's isolation largely because of the pandemic. The Rink of Dreams was born through the idea that the rink was “fulfilling people's dreams.”
Ultimately, it became a fulfilling feeling that they allowed those in need to use their rink.
Although the Weiss’ were willing to accommodate almost anyone that they spoke to, they determined that they would require a set schedule. This would allow for a cleanup of approximately 30-45 minutes between visits for an ice flood. This was resolved with the purchase of a Zamboni that would cut the time down to about four minutes.
This gave guests an experience of one-hour increments, and the Weiss’ could provide seven different time slots daily. They had a jumbotron built where they would be able to put the names of their guests to welcome them. Potential visitors would communicate through social media channels, where Elise would consider whom to invite. It became more of a charity.
Elise became the liaison and host for groups visiting attributed to her friendly and hospitable nature. She got to know each guest that came through the door; she ensured they felt welcomed.
Adding to the domino effect as the Rink of Dreams evolved, people would ask if they could take photos during their experience. They would post them on social media, and this created a scenario where others would contact Elise for an experience. “The underlying theme we kept hearing was you made my dreams come true."
David and Elise are humble folks. They didn’t always have the means to offer this unique opportunity to others. However, when discussing their space, David explains that they would rather allow others to use the rink than give a check to charity. They put value in experiences.
David is cognizant of how the Rink of Dreams makes people feel, and for him, he can relate. He says, “The Rink of Dreams is magical.”
David describes the outdoor skating experience as being perceived as the Canadian experience. He feels as if the surroundings are picturesque, with the combination of the trees, the ice, and the people who have come together.
When they invite people to the Rink of Dreams, they make sure their experience is top-notch. David expresses that the regular, everyday folks are much more satisfying to share the space with.
David adds that if this is their small contribution to society, they’re blessed. He explains that the outdoor hockey space unifies so many people, from Pride to the disabled, from a six-year-old girl to a sixty-year-old man.
The commonality is that they all love the game of hockey and the experience. The “sport of hockey unifies us all.”