Your support helps hockey dreams come true

When my son Logan was quite young, he would ask me “When can I play hockey, Dad?”

I didn’t know what to say, so I told him “when you’re bigger.” But I realized that with his disability, this might never be possible.

Like almost any Canadian kid, Logan dreamed of playing hockey. He wanted to play with his cousins and idolized his uncle Kevin who played goal in the NHL. Logan simply wanted a chance to play, but he was born with Cerebral Palsy.

Logan is like many children with disabilities in Winnipeg. They want to do what other kids do, but don’t always get the chance.

Fortunately, due to your support for United Way, kids like Logan are getting that chance.  It was during a chance discussion with some friends that I learned about sledge hockey, a paralympic sport played by a small group of men in Winnipeg.

I was surprised to learn that their team was formed with the help and support of United Way and agency partner Society for Manitobans with Disabilities.

Sledge hockey looked perfect for Logan. A sled-like frame equipped with parallel blades, like hockey skates, gives players an incredible amount of mobility.

They’re able to move about the ice with relative ease, using their arms and short hockey sticks with picks on the butt end to propel themselves. Also, the sleds can be equipped with wheels making it a year-round sport.

Let me tell you, Logan took to it quickly and played in their league that very winter. But Logan was a young boy playing with adults; there had to be a better opportunity for a child with disabilities.

Once again United Way came into our lives. They were able to expand their support to the agency which meant the sledge hockey league could offer a program exclusively for young people with disabilities.

Today, there are two teams – more than thirty boys and girls take to the ice every week. Able-bodied friends join them and it’s all thanks to generous people like you. Because of you, and your support for United Way and SMD, sledge hockey has leveled the playing field.

And you’ve given us what almost every father and son wants most…the opportunity to play a sport together. We have traveled all over Manitoba—places like Brandon and Dauphin, showing kids how to play. Logan even did a demonstration at his own school!

We have played exhibition games with a few high school hockey teams in Winnipeg and competed in the Western Canadian Sledge Hockey Championships in Alberta. We even played a team from Fargo.

Logan’s confidence is growing. He has a chance to get in the game, but other children are waiting for theirs. United Way can only support innovative services and programs like sledge hockey if Winnipeggers like you support United Way.

It’s your donations that make these dreams come true. You are giving children and adults living with disabilities the opportunity to participate. You are helping kids in our community realize their full potential.

You are changing lives when you support United Way. Logan and I are living proof.

Thank you.

Renald Bilodeau