Eighteen years ago our Journey with Mikey, aka the Buddhaman, began. I try to write something positive every year around this date, although it is the anniversary of a tragic turn of events. Mikey’s place in our family is a constant reminder how fragile and how strong we are in body and mind.
seventeen in January. He is growing tall and handsome in the usual adolescent
ways. Some days he is poised and gracious, but more days he is prone to the
classic teenage boy behavior, a little clumsy, resistant to expectations like
chores and personal hygiene and a lot insecure. Regardless of how irritating it
can be, I thank God for all those adolescent normalcies. It’s a sign that things are
working, maybe not as sharp as other 17 year old boys, but he has moments of
greatness that really grab your attention, especially when you know his backstory.
|Mike and PopPop|
This year Mike is captain of his Sled Hockey team, Virtua Wings of Steel. He is proud of wearing the big C on his Jersey and he looks forward to practices and games with more enthusiasm because of his position of team Captain. It’s a forum where he has the responsibility to be a role model for younger players, such as he had when he first began to play Sled Hockey 9 years ago. Sled Hockey has provided Mike and other kids an athletic and competitive venue where a kid with a disability that is unable to participate in able-bodied sport competitions can compete on a ‘level playing field’, such that even if a player can’t move his/her own sled, a pusher will move that player around the ice, actively participating in the game. It’s a thing of beauty to see the cheesey grin on the face of kid that swings his stick and moves the puck.
|Pusher in Sled Hockey|
What’s next for Mikey and our journey with him? On the calendar, April has become our month to celebrate all things Sled Hockey. On April 24 the Wings of Steel Annual GolfTournament will be held at the Ramblewood Country Club. This fundraiser is our main event where the team raises the money needed to support everything from ice time to equipment and travel. Every player is equipped with everything needed to play Sled Hockey. The team and parents are on hand all day to help host this event. Feel free to check it out! Sometimes, a few veteran Flyers, like Don Saleski and Bob Kelly participate in the day's events supporting the Wings.
In two weeks is the USA Hockey Disabled Festival in Buffalo. It is truly a celebration of athletes with disabilities celebrating their different abilities. Aside from the Wings of Steel, I think one of my favorite groups of teams to watch are the USA Warriors, teams of veterans who suffered life altering traumatic injuries in service to our country.
This is part of our journey with Mike, a reminder of how fragile and strong the body and mind is.