Mom of Child with Cerebral Palsy Starts a Special Hockey Team to Give Disabled Children a Chance to Play
What is it that you need to play hockey? All you really need is stakes, a stick, and, of course, a secure helmet. Other than those things, it is a fantastic sport that can be enjoyed by anybody as long as they are willing to try.
This is the belief of the New England Bombers, a New Hampshire-based special hockey team that is dedicated to providing opportunities for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities to “strap on some skates,” so to speak, and get out on the ice to give it a try.
For Melly Brown, the team’s founder, this mission is personal; her son was born with a form of cerebral palsy, although that hasn’t diminished his love for hockey in the slightest. Melly teamed up with Daniele Crutcher and Johnny Minahan, Silas’ therapists at Project Walk Boston and together they created the Bombers! Joining Melly in her efforts are over 50 volunteers, therapists, and parents.
On November 16th, the New Bombers officially debuted by hosting a “Try It” event in association with the American Special Hockey Association. After five months of preparations, over 30 athletes and their families showed up to join in in the fun.
No child or adult, regardless of their disability is turned away. “We have kids out here that are vent dependent, on trachs. We have kids out here that are nonverbal. We have kids out here that can’t walk or talk,” said Melly in an interview with WHDH. ‘It doesn’t matter their ability, we’ll put them on the ice.”
“We created an opportunity where nothing holds them back,” she continued in a Facebook post.” “We leave wheelchairs on the sidelines, diagnosis in the dust, and give these kids the chance to play hockey like their peers! Where some see disability, we see their ABILITY!”
In some cases, the team even created adaptive equipment to help the athletes who don’t have the ability to easily walk or hold sticks.
EazyHold, which manufactures adaptive utensil holders to help disabled individuals eat, write, and more, helped sponsor the event.
“Due to all of the different diagnosis and physical limitations the athletes have, we reached out to EazyHold to see if they would support our team with their grips to aid in helping the athletes hold onto the hockey sticks,” said the Bombers on Facebook. “We are so thankful to EazyHold for helping our athletes play hockey just like their able-bodied peers.”
After the event concluded, it didn’t take long for the stories to come in from appreciative children and parents.
“Honestly yesterday was amazing!!” said one Facebook post. When [he] was on the cooling those first 72 hours after birth I said to [the dad] we will tell him when he’s older he will be so good at hockey because he was cooled! We went home from the NICU on hospice…to see my husband and son together on the ice yesterday was literally a dream come!”
The event proved so successful that Melly already intends to have another event next year. “We had to cut off the registration because we had so many kids,” she said. “I’m sure there will be a lot of new faces out there next time and we’ll have a lot more fun.”