Twins Jeremy and Jordan were thrilled to be the recipients of new sledge hockey equipment courtesy of the Winnipeg Real Estate News and the Downtown BIZ Power Play promotion.
“My dream was always to play hockey,” said 11-year-old Jeremy prior to a special presentation during an April 19 Manitoba Moose play-off game. “This is my opportunity. I’ll do a lot better now that I have my own equipment.”
The WREN and Downtown BIZ raised $7,800 for 11 sets of sledge hockey equipment that was presented this year to 11 children.
For every Moose power play goal scored during the regular season, the two groups donated $100 to the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation, which the foundation used to purchase sledge hockey equipment for children living with disabilities.
Whenever someone visited the WREN’s Facebook page and said they “liked” it, the newspaper also donated another $1 toward buying equipment.
“I really think it will help me play better,” said 16-year-old Chris. “Having my own sledge will allow me to practice more and get better.”
In the past, Chris, as is the case with many disabled players, had to share the sledges available during league play.
“It’s always a lot easier when you don’t have to borrow equipment,” said 12-year-old Logan Bilodeau, who is featured on the WREN’s Facebook page as the ambassador for the promotion.
“You can take it anywhere,” added Logan, who has been playing sledge hockey for three years. “It’s a very good plus.”
“The emphasis of the Power Play promotion is to get more children involved in the sport,” said WREN general manager Jo-Anne Wood.
It’s the second year of the Power Play promotion for the WREN, which this year added the Winnipeg BIZ as a partner in order to expand its impact. Last year, the WREN raised $2,300 and three children received new sledge hockey equipment.
Sledge hockey equipment ranges in price from $500 to $900 per child, and is modified specifically to the needs of each individual player.
“I’ll do better because I can adjust my blades closer together,” said Jeremy.
For the uninitiated, sledge hockey players use two sticks that look like scaled-down versions of regular hockey sticks. While it’s obvious what end of the stick is used to shoot and pass the puck, the other end of each stick has metal prongs that the players use to propel themselves on the ice while strapped into their sledges.
The sledges are made up of a reinforced plastic seat over two relatively thin metal pipes ending in a slight cage, and two blades at the rear and bottom of the sledge.
Sledge hockey offers all the physical benefits of hockey, increasing upper body strength, cardiovascular endurance and balance skills.
In the last few years, participation in the city’s sledge hockey league has increased to up to 24 players, which includes boys and girls.
According to the Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation, the growing popularity of the sport means that the foundation will be receiving more requests for equipment in the future.