The Niagara Peninsula Foundation for Children is all about supporting youth in its region and liked what they see in the Niagara Sledge Hockey League enough to host a fundraising breakfast for the league to ensure youth of all abilities can play hockey in Niagara.
Chase Myers is a great example of a young player who benefits from their donation. The 10-year-old athlete from St. Catharines has always been an exceptional hockey player. But he thought his hockey days were done after a Perthes disease diagnosis in 2021, a condition that threatens hip deterioration by restricting blood flow, which left him on crutches for months. He was left feeling he could no longer participate in his favourite sport until, he was introduced to sledge hockey through ParaSport™ Ontario.
“Kids with a physical disability are at a real disadvantage with respect to playing sport,” Niagara Peninsula Children’s Foundation chair Jack Foster said. The foundation, which has donated over $300,000 since its inception in 2014 was thrilled to ensure that Chase and other youngsters are back on the ice. “Sports are so important for children and for the community,” Foster added.
“The Foundation’s mandate has always been to help children with special needs, but that is no longer limited to intellectual and physical disabilities,” Foster shared. “Nowadays there are economic barriers as well.”
The fundraising event featured a sledge hockey demonstration where everyone was given an opportunity to sit in a sledge and shoot on net, with players from the Brock University Badgers Varsity Hockey Team being perhaps the most enthusiastic.
“Events like this are super-important opportunities to grow the parasport in Niagara,” offered Kevin Waters, Niagara Sledge Hockey League co-ordinator and Program and Event Manager for ParaSport Ontario. “Awareness of the sport is one of the biggest factors to improving its success. We hear a lot from individuals in the community when first come out that they had no idea about sledge hockey,” noted Waters.