Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Enjoying His Years ON THE ICE

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Enjoying His Years ON THE ICE

Article excerpt

In 1981 my son, Mike, was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. After the initial shock, there were multiple trips to doctors and hospitals, as well as sleepless nights worrying what life would bring for him. It wasn't until he started going to school that my husband and I started looking for activities for him to participate with other disabled kids.

We tried swimming but that was a two-and-a-half hour trip for one hour in the pool. Basketball and other wheelchair sports were just too far to drive. He tried Challenger baseball but couldn't understand why everyone got to bat when there were certainly more than three outs.

Boy Scouts offered involvement with other boys, so that was the activity we went with despite him being the only disabled scout and not being able to do the hikes with his troop. Camping with modifications opened up the world of archery and rifle shooting. He even got a job as an archery instructor at Cub Scout summer camp.

Throughout all this, I kept reading Exceptional Parent (EP) magazine, my source of information about the disabled world. Then one day, I read an article about sled hockey--and that changed our lives. The New Jersey Devils Youth Hockey Club was starting a sled hockey team and looking for players. Hooray! Something that was only one hour away. Mike was familiar with hockey since his older brother played in high school and he was a Devils fan already.

We went to the rink in West Orange, NJ and Mike was fitted with equipment and given a sled and sticks. Onto the ice he went and started skating away. One of the people who was on the ice that day was Victor Calise. Victor was a member of the USA sled hockey team who went to Nagano, Japan to play during the Paralympics in 1998. He helped Mike with turns and stopping and offered general encouragement. Mike came off the ice and he was hooked. He went back week after week and worked on his game. More kids joined the team and they were into competition, but competition with other disabled teams. This suited Mike just fine. Here was a sport that he could do with others like him. …

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