Todd Lefebvre was already being stretched thin, the result of his never-ending penchant to lend a helping hand as a volunteer with several local sports organizations, when he first met Lynne Houle.
"We connected on Manitoulin Island, where we both park our trailers," said Houle. "We became friends, about seven years ago, and spent almost every single summer together since then."
That won't happen this summer, Lefebvre succumbing to his battle with cancer, last September, at the age of just 51.
Roughly six weeks ago, well before COVID-19 restrictions were enacted, members of the Greater Sudbury Police Services, as well as the Sudbury Miners Special Olympics floor hockey team that Lefebvre helped coach, gathered for an evening of fun in his honour.
It was a fitting tribute to a man who spent so much of his free time for the benefit of others.
"There was no convincing that was needed," said Houle. "He got to meet my daughter and other Special Olympians, and got to know the kids really well. By the end of that first summer, he started asking about what he could do to help. By September, he was registered for his coaching courses, and he started that year."
Like so many of his teammates, William Lang remained so very thankful for the efforts of coach Todd.
"He was a really fun coach to have," said the second year defenceman with the successful local team. "If you made a mistake, he sat down beside you and explained what you did wrong."
Taking the lessons to heart, Lang has partnered with his defensive cohort, Brandon Brown, the tandem among the many attributes that helps keep the Miners goals against average at a minimum.
"This is my first time playing defence, and he (Brandon) has really helped me," said Lang. "I know if I take off up the floor, he will cover my spot, or he goes up and I cover him. Shawn (Duguay) is our goalie and he's like a wall. Sometimes, he comes out of nowhere to make some awesome saves."
Skill aside, there was a higher calling in play as the Sudbury Miners excelled at the 2019 provincials, roughly a month or so prior to the passing of Lefebvre, and with the latter unable to join the team in Toronto.
"All of us sat down in our team huddle and decided to play for Todd," said Lang. "Win or lose, we wanted Todd to be proud of us."
Lynne Houle is not the least bit surprised at the devotion that her recruited coach garnered with his players, over time.
"Todd was so accepting and had such a big heart," she said. "He got it. There was no negativity, no questioning.
"Even last year, when we hosted the Police vs Miners game, in the spring - that's when we saw the toll (of the cancer). But he was still dedicated, still wanted to be involved, still connected with the athletes."
His was a connection that lived on, at this particular gathering, and will continue to do so, in memoriam.