Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hockey, Autism, and a Shameless Plea

Hi, friends and family and assorted stoppers by! I'm stepping out of my comfort zone a little bit here and asking for help for a really great organization. You all may know that Jack joined a hockey team this year. He skates every week with the Montgomery Cheetahs, an ice hockey team for young people with developmental disabilities.

I'm, like, 93% sure that's him on the left.

If, on some crazy off-chance, you haven't heard me blather on and on (and on) about them, here are some links to some stuff I've written about them:

I wrote about Jack's first hockey practice (and Sam at soccer) here.

I wrote about Jack's first hockey game here.

I wrote about how much hockey means to Jack in this post I wrote for Hopeful Parents.

Honestly, it is a really great organization, and one that means so much to the athletes who play on the team.

Furthermore, young volunteers—teens, pre-teens, and young adults—come out each week to act as mentors to the players. These mentors team up one-to-one with the players and teach them to skate, encourage them, and help them learn hockey skills. It can't always be easy for these young people to help athletes with developmental disabilities, but they do it. They come out at 7 and 8 a.m. on a Saturday to volunteer. Frankly, I don't even want to be there that early, and Jack is my kid, so...

I am hopeful that these wonderful volunteers will carry the stories of our athletes to the larger world. This partnership between young people with disabilities and typical teens has the potential to make a real change in the world.

The Cheetahs have been a team for several years now, although Jack and I have only been with them since September. If you want to see what this team has meant to some of the kids who've been with them from the start, check out this video:

Here's where I ask for help. This is the easiest way I know to get in touch with everyone I know, so I'm posting here instead of harassing you all with emails.

This hockey team needs money. Ice time can cost up to $300 an hour. The team needs on-ice equipment and subsidizes players to go to tournaments. (Our big tournament this year is in Boston.) Any and all donations to the Cheetahs go directly to programming. With an all-volunteer staff of coaches and administration, you know that any money you donate will go directly to the team and its goal of using hockey to help special needs kids better integrate into the community.

This year, the team's original founder is matching all donations up to a total of $5000. If you have it in you to give $5 or $20 (or $5000), your donation would be doubled, and you would be making a difference to a lot of special needs kids. Kids like this one:

Not our mascot. Funds will not go to buy a stuffed cheetah suit.

I have an address (not mine) to which you can send checks, but for privacy I don't really want to publish it here. To find it, go to the Cheetahs website (here) and scroll down to just above the first video. I don't think you can donate online.

(I actually am tempted to post the address here because I think it is the address of the guy who accidentally cut and pasted my phone number onto a document that resulted in my cell phone number being put on an answering machine message as the emergency contact for a national convention, but, you know...bygones.)

Edited to add: The Cheetahs' (volunteer and awesome) director has given me permission to post his address here (see comments). Mail any checks (made out to "Special Hockey Montgomery") to Special Hockey Montgomery, 8232 Inverness Hollow Terrace, Potomac, MD 20854. Please. No stalking.

I know how hard it is to give your hard-earned money away, even if it is to a good cause. I wouldn't even ask were it not for the fact that this organization is so incredible and makes such a tangible difference in the lives of so many kids. (Also, if you know an organization looking for a team to sponsor, please let me know!)

I will never know if you did or didn't donate, so don't worry, I won't be giving you the stink eye next time I see you. Even if you were all flat-out, "I'm not donating," I wouldn't give you the stink-eye.

If, however, you decide to donate and then tell me about it and email me with your snail mail address, I will mail you your very own Stimeyland Thank You Gift in the Form of Old Stimeyland Swag:

Hockey puck not included.

Supplies are limited in that I am almost out of these, but as long as I have them and y'all are demanding them, I'll send them. I won't even ask for proof of donation because I'm trusting that way.

Plus, I figure if you don't donate but ask for the mouse, everytime you measure something, your guilty conscience will make your little mouse say "You stole plastic mice out of autistic hockey players' little, needy hands. Jerk." And then your pen will run out of ink.

Jack says, "Thank you for your time!"
Actually, he said no such thing. But I thank you.

There are lots of special hockey teams around the country. The Cheetahs are affiliated with the American Special Hockey Association. Check them out if you're interested in finding a team for your own child.

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