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Pledge for Sledge

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by Rebecca Virgin

September 19, 2006

(Toronto) -- Chad Kilger wasn't participating in a typical hockey scrimmage on Tuesday when he was strapped into sled and playing sledge hockey.

John Ferguson signs the cheque for Bloorview Kids Rehab 

Kilger, along with Leafs GM John Ferguson were at Bloorview Kids Rehab to present a cheque for $27,000 in support of a sledge hockey program that will run in conjunction with Variety Village and the City of Toronto's ice rinks.

"This will allow us to purchase some adapted equipment to enable more participants for this grassroots program," said Arnold Lopez, a recreation therapist.  "Hockey is the national pastime and these kids should have that opportunity in an adapted way."

After the presentation, Kilger strapped himself into a sled and started to play with some of the children on hand.  He quickly discovered that sledge hockey requires a much different set of skills than his usual form of hockey.

"It seems like a great sport, and you know obviously it's seems like the kids really enjoy getting out there and it's an opportunity to get out there and play," said Kilger.  "It's great that we're able to raise these funds and help our community."

Lopez was happy to have the extra support on hand.

Chad Kilger has some fun with a youngster.  

"My job is to get kids active and out into the community.  It's important for social acceptance out in the community, you know active living, and opportunity to participate in sports," said Lopez. "Chad's just great with the kids and any time you can get a Leaf player or professional hockey player, they're great mentors and they motivate the kids to participate."

Sledge hockey is the fastest growing sport in the disability world and with many of the children who play already burden with extra costs for medical care and equipment the money donated by the Leafs Fund was a welcomed.

"You take a look around and these people do have needs and we're happy to just give back a little bit and put a little cheer into their day," said Ferguson.  "It's really humbling and we've got a lot to be thankful for."

The more than 50 kids on hand for the presentation were certainly excited, waving Leaf flags, hugging Carlton,  and giving high fives to Kilger.

"It means a lot to us to have the community support," said Valerie McMurtry,  president of Bloorview Kids Rehab, Canada's largest pediatric rehabilitation centre.  "We couldn't do the range of things that we are able to provide for the children with out community support.  Our approach to health care for children with disabilities is much more than physical therapy and doctors and nurses.  It really is about the whole health of the child."

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