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Special-needs hockey team takes to ice for fundraiser, first game

Posted: January 29, 2013 9:03 a.m.
Updated: January 29, 2013 9:03 a.m.

Members of Santa Clarita’s special-needs hockey team took to the ice Saturday, first for a team fundraiser and then for their first-ever game.

Participating athletes and coaches from the Valencia SNAP, Special Needs Athletes & Peers, Flyers Hockey Club raised money during Saturday’s “Skate-A-Thon,” skating for up to 60 continuous minutes, with sponsors donating money for every minute skated.

Organizers also sold raffle tickets to raise additional funds.

The event was organized by the Bridges to Ability Foundation. The foundation is based in Santa Clarita and provides athletic, educational, social, vocational and recreational programs to teenagers, adults and seniors with developmental disabilities.

Proceeds of Saturday’s fundraiser went to benefit the SNAP Flyers.

Dave Chase, SNAP Flyers team president and president of the board of directors for the Bridges to Ability Foundation, said the team fundraised between $12,000 and $15,000 during the event.

Any money raised or donated is especially important because the team does not charge any of its athletes to participate, Chase said.

The SNAP Flyers began last March as an offshoot of a local Special Olympics floor hockey team.

Now the team has about 17 athletes, both men and women, and is one of only about 60 special-needs hockey teams nationwide.

And Chase said he could not be happier to be a part of the program.

“People asked me if I wanted to be a part of this and I said, ‘Heck yes,’” Chase said. “I jumped all over it. And I can safely say this has been the most rewarding and exhilarating volunteer I have ever had.”

Though the current SNAP Flyers team is made up of only adults, Chase said the eventual goal is to have a program made up of several teams of differing skill levels.

SNAP Flyers’ head coach Mike Doggett, who has coached hockey for more than two decades and has coached extensively for the Special Olympics, called the program part of his purpose in life.

“This is one of those things in life that defines who I am,” Doggett said. “I love hockey and I love being able to help coach these athletes, so it was just a really good blend.”

And all the work of volunteers, coaches and athletes came to a head as the Valencia SNAP Flyers faced off against the Panorama City-based California Condors in their first-ever game Saturday night at the Ice Station Valencia.

Matt Adams, a member of the SNAP Flyers, said he could not wait to play in a game.

Adams was one of the Special Olympics floor hockey players who decided to give ice hockey a try. When asked what the hardest part about the switch from floor to the ice was, Adams did not hesitate to answer.

“It was really easy to fall,” Adams said. “I fell all the time. But just like coach says, ‘When you fall, you get back up.’ You always get back up.”

The next event for the SNAP Flyers will be a tournament that will run from May 31 to June 2, Chase said. That tournament will be held at Ice Station Valencia and feature teams from the western United States.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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