Please watch the video of the Special Hockey Tournament 2007
Written by Levan Reid
Last Updated:6/1/20077:27:35 PM
ARLINGTON, Va. (WUSA)- It was the biggest celebration of special hockey, the country has ever seen. Forty-three teams and more than five hundred athletes, all at the Iceplex in Arlington, Virginia.
"It's actually amazing," says Mike Hickey. "I started the program, the Washington Icedogs program, in Laurel, Maryland, seven years ago. It's grown so large that we had to start the special hockey association."
The program has always given young people with special needs a chance for athletic achievement, and this time it was on the big stage.
"I'm really choked up," says Randy Brawley. "I felt real emotional when I came out here and it was good that I handled it and everything. It's really special. Special hockey is really special."
Special hockey is one of the fastest growing sports in the special development community. The athletes benefit from getting therapy on a competitive level, and the parents love watching their kids on the ice.
"His dad and I are so proud of him," says Kathleen Atmore-Gilbertsen. "He is happy on the ice, he feels good about himself, he's really able to shine and succeed and it's amazing for us to watch that. It's a dream come true."
One hundred percent volunteer. That's the most impressive item about special hockey. Parents and administrators get together, and they get the job done. Their only gripe, there's only 24 hours in the day. They wish they could do more.
"I mean it's real dedication," says Randy Brawley. "All the kids and parents will come down here every week and help out and do their volunteer work and they will ask for nothing back. They just want to give, give, give."