We just wrapped up our UCT Gives Back AGAIN to Special Hockey video contest on Saturday – and made two American Special Hockey Association (ASHA) special hockey teams very happy by awarding them a total of $15,000 for their programs!
A BIG shout out to the Washington Ice Dogs special hockey team from Laurel, Maryland, who won first place and $10,000 and to the East Coast Jumbos from Watertown, Massachusetts, who won second place and $5,000! For the teams it was a long month of voting and networking and hounding family, friends, co-workers and anyone else within email/social media reach. But it paid off. UCT is so happy to give back to such an inspirational cause and amazing teams.
According to Washington Ice Dogs Program Director Melissa Schaab, the team learned of their big win while getting geared up for their ice time on Saturday morning. “The Ice Dogs were so excited to win the UCT Gives Back AGAIN contest,” she said “We were most excited to tell Coach Melissa Gill, who helped make the contest video. She’s a new coach who was new to special hockey and had just met our players two weeks before, yet she captured the players and their personalities beautifully.”
The Ice Dogs’ goal is to put their $10,000 toward next season’s ice time, which costs the program around $15,000 and is their biggest expense. “We worry constantly about covering our expenses without stressing our players’ families about fees and fundraising,” Melissa explained. “Winning this contest is a huge relief to those of us who manage the budget and to the families who participate in the program. We are so grateful to UCT for this support.”
East Coast Jumbos Team Manager Ray LeBlanc said his team was also thrilled on hearing about their second place win on Saturday, especially team member Jenna Markow who made the contest video. He sees the Jumbos’ win as a great opportunity for the team. “Now we can all look forward to planning a major road trip together as a team to a tournament in March. This $5,000 helps our team have the chance to travel and meet other players – and have some terrific experiences together. We can’t say thank you enough, UCT.”
Our thanks goes out to all of the special hockey teams that submitted videos for the UCT Gives Back AGAIN to Special Hockey video contest, everyone who voted, all our new Facebook followers, and all those who are involved in and support special hockey and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The purpose behind the video contest for special hockey teams is not only to award two deserving teams with much needed financial support, but also to help increase awareness of these amazing programs and special hockey in general. Special hockey is unique in that it gives players with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to play ice hockey and experience the thrill of friendly competition. It’s also special in that it provides players with the chance to develop confidence, social skills and teamwork, which enhances their existence on and off the ice. Athletes with a variety of special needs have found success through special hockey.
UCT has been supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities for nearly 60 years. Being the national sponsor of ASHA allows us to continue our efforts and support. Again, congrats to the teams that won and thanks to all those that participated. You’re pretty special to us!