[117th Congress Public Law 84]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

[[Page 7]]

                                MEDAL ACT

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Public Law 117-84
117th Congress

                                 An Act

 To award a Congressional Gold Medal to Willie O'Ree, in recognition of 
his extraordinary contributions and commitment to hockey, inclusion, and 
     recreational opportunity. <<NOTE: Jan. 31, 2022 -  [S. 452]>> 

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled, <<NOTE: Willie O'Ree 
Congressional Gold Medal Act. 31 USC 5111 note.>> 

    This Act may be cited as the ``Willie O'Ree Congressional Gold Medal 

    Congress finds the following:
            (1) Willie O'Ree was the first Black player to compete in 
        the National Hockey League (NHL), appearing for the Boston 
        Bruins on January 18, 1958, in the throes of the civil rights 
        movement in the United States helping to end racial segregation 
        in the premier professional ice hockey league; he is widely 
        referred to as the ``Jackie Robinson of Hockey''.
            (2) <<NOTE: Paris O'Ree.>>  Willie O'Ree was born October 
        15, 1935, in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada; he is the 
        youngest of 13 children and a descendant of Paris O'Ree, whose 
        name appears in the famous historical document ``The Book of 
            (3) Willie O'Ree was raised by his parents in Fredericton, a 
        predominantly White town where hockey was deeply rooted within 
        the culture. O'Ree was a standout athlete on the ice and the 
        baseball diamond.
            (4) At age 21, O'Ree was being scouted by professional 
        baseball teams and seriously considered baseball as a career. 
        Upon experiencing the segregated South for the first time while 
        appearing for a minor league tryout, his dream changed and his 
        attention turned solely to ice hockey.
            (5) While playing amateur hockey, Willie was struck in his 
        right eye with a puck and lost his eyesight. He was told by 
        doctors to abandon his hockey career; instead, never disclosing 
        the extent of his injury, he pursued his dream of playing 
        professional hockey.
            (6) At the age of 22, O'Ree was called up from the Quebec 
        Aces of the Quebec Hockey League (QHL) to play for the NHL's 
        Boston Bruins at a time when only 6 teams existed in the league. 
        O'Ree was unaware he had broken the color barrier at the top 
        level of the sport until he read it in the newspaper the 
        following day.

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            (7) Blind in 1 eye and a victim of racism at times 
        throughout his career, O'Ree persevered and played professional 
        hockey for 22 years, tallying over 1,000 points.
            (8) In 1996, 17 years after O'Ree retired from professional 
        hockey, the National Hockey League hired O'Ree as the first-ever 
        Diversity Ambassador. Having already changed the game forever 
        through his courage and convictions, O'Ree gives new definition 
        to what it means to be a trailblazer.
            (9) In this role as Diversity Ambassador with the NHL, O'Ree 
        set out to grow the sport by providing access, opportunity, and 
        motivation for children of all races, ethnicities, origins, and 
        abilities. With O'Ree providing a vivid example of what is 
        possible and serving as a relentless supporter of children 
        pursuing their dreams, more than 30 nonprofit youth 
        organizations, dubbed Hockey is for Everyone programs, were 
        developed across North America, each committed to offering 
        minority and underserved children an opportunity to play hockey, 
        leveraging the sport to build character, foster positive values, 
        and develop important life skills.
            (10) Through Hockey is for Everyone programs, more than 
        120,000 boys and girls have been positively impacted. O'Ree has 
        devoted nearly 2,500 days on the ground with the youth 
        participants, visiting more than 500 schools, community centers, 
        and rinks to speak to hockey's core values and beliefs: stay in 
        school; set goals for yourself; remain committed and 
        disciplined; and always respect your teammates, coaches, and 
            (11) Hockey is for Everyone programs have provided important 
        opportunities for youth to partake in physical fitness. Today in 
        the United States, fewer than half of the children ages 6-11 
        engage in the recommended amount of physical activity, and that 
        number is lower for low-income families. O'Ree has stood as a 
        champion of youth athletic participation and its health benefits 
        for decades.
            (12) Hockey is for Everyone programs provide numerous off-
        ice services to youth: SAT and academic tutoring, mentoring, 
        nutrition education, college counseling, community service 
        opportunities, and more. The program has excelled at using 
        hockey as a vehicle to improve the social and emotional wellness 
        of youth and improve students' academic performances both in 
        primary school and beyond.
            (13) O'Ree was also named a Member of the Order of Canada in 
        2008 and, in 2018, the City of Boston released an official 
        Proclamation recognizing January 18, the anniversary of the day 
        he broke into the game, as ``Willie O'Ree Day''.
            (14) In November 2018, 60 years after O'Ree entered the NHL, 
        he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the ``builder'' 
        category in recognition of his efforts to grow the game, using 
        his position and the platform of hockey to improve the lives of 
        children throughout North America.

    (a) Award Authorized.--The Speaker of the House of Representatives 
and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall make appropriate 
arrangements for the award, on behalf of the Congress, of a single gold 
medal of appropriate design to Willie

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O'Ree, or if unavailable, to a member of his family, in recognition of 
his extraordinary contributions and commitment to hockey, inclusion, and 
recreational opportunity.
    (b) Design and Striking.--For the purposes of the award referred to 
in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury (hereafter in this Act 
referred to as the ``Secretary'') shall strike the gold medal with 
suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined by the 
Secretary. The design shall bear an image of, and an inscription of the 
name of, Willie O'Ree.

    (a) In General.--The Secretary may strike and sell duplicates in 
bronze of the gold medal struck under section 3, at a price sufficient 
to cover the costs of the medals, including labor, materials, dies, use 
of machinery, and overhead expenses.
    (b) Proceeds of Sales.--The amounts received from the sale of 
duplicate medals under subsection (a) shall be deposited in the United 
States Mint Public Enterprise Fund.
    (c) Authority to Use Fund Amounts.--There is authorized to be 
charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund such 
amounts as may be necessary to pay for the costs of the medals struck 
under this Act.

    (a) National Medal.--The medals struck pursuant to this Act are 
national medals for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States 
    (b) Numismatic Items.--For purposes of section 5134 of title 31, 
United States Code, all medals struck under this Act shall be considered 
to be numismatic items.

    Approved January 31, 2022.


                                                        Vol. 167 (2021):
                                    July 27, considered and passed 
                                                        Vol. 168 (2022):
                                    Jan. 19, considered and passed