Monday, March 28, 2011

Special Hockey Team Opens Some Eyes

Just a wonderful story. Hopefully more communities can provide opportunities like this.

BUFFALO -- Lined up across the ice, neatly stuffed into brown paper bags, the jerseys sat for 10-15 grueling minutes.
The Buffalo Thunder players knew they were getting new sweaters -- they just had no clue what to expect. Some 20 yards away, they stared down the bags. Coaches gave them the green light, they skated over, ripped the bags open with a Christmas-morning adrenaline rush and couldn't believe their eyes.
"These uniforms are like the Sabres made a clone team," the Thunder's Chris Polisoto said later at the North Buffalo Ice Rink. "If Tyler Myers was here, he'd love every minute of this."
Stanley Cup exuberance ensued. Buffalo's special needs hockey team hoisted the blue and gold jerseys above their heads. Each one, the product of fundraising and donations, had their name and number stitched on the back with a Thunder logo on the front. Parents watched on from the other side of the glass. And emotions spilled over.
All players -- 21 males and females aged 10-34 -- came to play the same sport their siblings do. But in return, they've received much, much more. With challenges ranging from Down Syndrome to autism to learning disorders, the Thunder players have developed friendships they simply never had before.

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