Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey (CBSH) had 35 players attend the 12th Annual USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Festival in Fraser, Michigan over the extended weekend of April 7-10, 2016. CBSH fielded three teams in the Special Hockey Division, one at each level, A, B and C. Each team played 3 games against teams with similar skills from across the nation. The mission of the Festival is to provide a fun and exciting weekend of hockey as well as promote and grow disabled hockey throughout the country.
“This event is such a wonderful opportunity for our kids to be a teammate, to be competitive, and to be with their friends playing the sport that they, and their families, love so much. It also provides the opportunity for families to spend time together and be full of pride for what their special athletes can do,” said Angi Paravola, CBSH Registrar and Executive Director. Paravola’s son, Cole, has played for CBSH for 11 years, but this was his first time attending the Disabled Festival.
“The experience was amazing; we won’t miss another one [festival]!” Paravola went on to say, “It takes many volunteers and coaches, 251 coaches to be exact, to make this weekend such a huge success. And you better believe each volunteer and coach, comes away with full hearts. Everybody wins.”
The Disabled Festival includes all four disciples of disabled hockey: deaf/hard of hearing, special hockey, sled hockey and standing/amputee hockey. For the second year, blind/visually impaired hockey was also part of the event with two teams playing a three-game series.
The inaugural Disabled Festival was held in Detroit, Michigan, in 2005 and included 24 teams and nearly 300 players. The largest disabled hockey event of its kind, the Disabled Festival has continued to expand over the years. Last year, the event set records with 71 teams and over 1,000 players. This year’s Festival shattered 2015’s numbers with 90 teams and over 1,100 players converging on Fraser Hockeyland Arena.
NOTES: Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey (CBSH) is dedicated to providing children and adults with developmental disabilities the opportunity to play hockey. CBSH team members range in age from 5 to 55 and include both male and female athletes. The team is comprised of players that have Autism, Down’s Syndrome or other intellectual disabilities. CBSH strives to promote and emphasize the development of sportsmanship, team spirit, increased confidence, pride and team unity while having a great time in the process!