In New England, playing ice hockey is a rite of passage. Some kids are taught how to ice skate before they can walk, and professional hockey players are idolized as heroes. But for disabled kids, it�s a sport best watched from the sidelines or on TV.
That is, until New Hampshire mom Melly Brown started the New England Bombers, a youth hockey team dedicated to getting kids with intellectual and physical disabilities the chance to get out on the ice.
Brown�s son Silas (pictured below) was born with a form of cerebral palsy, but that never stopped him from loving the sport. So, with the help of Silas� therapists at Project Walk Boston, a crew of 50 volunteers and other parents of disabled children, she set about forming the Bombers.
After half a year of preparation, the New Bombers hosted a �Try It� event in association with the American Special Hockey Association, where children and caregivers in the community were invited to a local ice rink to take a spin on the ice using some new adaptive technology.
The New England Bombers serves communities in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine and beyond. A staff of trainers and volunteers are dedicated to finding the best way to get each child safely and comfortably on the ice. The team accepts children with all types of disabilities, nobody is turned away.
(Source: Jen O’Brien Facebook)
�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,� Melly told WHDH-TV. �It doesn�t matter their ability, we�ll put them on the ice.�
Melly�s husband is a welder, and he created a clamp and welded it to the kids� adaptive sleds and attached sticks to their walkers and gate trainers. EasyHold, a company that manufactures adaptive utensil holders for people with disabilities, sponsored the event and provided special grips for the kids to help them hold their sticks.
Over 100 people showed up for the event and judging by the smiles from the parents and kids circling the rink, there will be even more at the next opportunity for folks to participate in January.
�We had to cut off the registration because we had so many kids,� Melly said. �I�m sure there will be a lot of new faces out there next time and we�ll have a lot more fun.�
After the event, a few people who attended posted to the Bombers Facebook page and shared their experiences.
�Honestly yesterday was amazing!!� one commenter wrote. �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 true!�
We�re sure that more than a few kids had their dreams come true after hitting the ice with the New England Bombers. Kudos to Melly Brown for taking the initiative to create an opportunity for kids of all abilities to enjoy their favorite sport.
(Source: images New England Bombers Special Hockey Facebook)