Sunday, May 18, 2014

Wounded Warriors

On Saturday, May 17, Armed Forces Day, the USA Hockey's Warrior Sled Hockey team competed against the USA Women’s sled Hockey team.

The USA Hockey's Warrior Ice Hockey Program doesn't have an affiliation with the Wounded Warriors Project, but nonetheless is a program staffed by officers and coaches who are all unpaid volunteers who enjoy the satisfaction of giving back to the heroes who suffered severe sacrifices in the line of duty in service to our country.
On Friday night my grandson Mike was invited to play with the Wounded Warrior Sled Hockey for the Saturday and Sunday games at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees. What an awesome opportunity this was for him to experience, not only to play with adult sled players, but to play side by side with the Wounded Warriors.

Heroes' Welcome
As he arrived at the ice rink, in the lobby was a receiving line throughout the lobby from the door to the ice, called the Hero’s Welcome, manned by Warriors' Watch Riders.

The Grammy in me wants to effusively wax on about how much Mike amazes us every time he breeches another plateau in his journey, and he has again this year - the kid, that sixteen years ago, doctors and therapists said he might not ever walk, talk or see after his head injury. While Mike's journey, is truly a testament to faith, persistence and a united warrior-like group effort to not accept what ‘might’ be, this piece should be about the Warriors who sacrificed in service to their country.

They signed up for their service, but they sure didn’t sign up for the life altering damage to their bodies and minds so many have suffered with little or no supportive and wraparound services they and their families found were lacking upon return home.

Last month, I wrote about the USA Disabled Hockey festival held in Marlborough, MA, and briefly mentioned the Wounded Warriors Standing amputee team, where they had a one armed goalie. The Wounded Warrior Sled Hockey team also played at the festival, and some team members also participated in the Sochi Paralympics on the USA team.   By the way, the USA men’s team took the Gold Medal, over Russia (silver) and Canada (bronze), just sayin’, worthy opponents, but the USA prevailed and were the first sled hockey team to win back-to-back Gold Medals.
2014 USA Paralympic Sled Hockey Gold Medal team
As exciting as it is for Mike to be honored being invited to play this weekend, and he did understand the magnitude of such an invitation, the basis of this site is stories about “The life we claim we didn’t sign up.” While nobody signs up for a disability or different ability, it happens. What happens after that is what we must focus on and craft the process of moving on with life, even if it is the one we didn't sign up for.
Please visit these sites. Thank our people in the military for their service and sacrifice.
Roundup of the weekend's games:
  • Game 1 - 5-3, Women's team
  • Game 2 - 4-3, Women's team
  • Game 3 - 3-1, Warriors.
Wounded Warriors & USA Hockey Women's Sled Hockey teams.

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