SAN JOSE - The Sharks Foundation announced today that it will donate $30,000 to advance a special needs hockey group from Sequoia High School in Redwood City's Adaptive Physical Education Class, as well as other adaptive hockey groups throughout California, through the inaugural Big Give program.
Aligning with the Foundation's Season of Giving campaign for December, the Foundation created the Big Give to provide an experience that coincides with the Sharks Foundation's mission to enhance the lives of youth and families in the Bay Area. Originally, the Sequoia group was merely seeking funding to cover the cost of ice time that had previously been covered by grants which they no longer qualified. However, after learning of the team's extreme equipment needs and lack of financial resources, the Foundation decided to go beyond simply writing a check.
"The Foundation's contribution will ensure the ice time payment is covered and enable the program to continue fostering the development of fundamental hockey skills that, when mastered, will generalize to real-life situations," said Rebeca Goodwin, Education Specialist at Sequoia High School. "For instance, perseverance, communication, teamwork, and thinking ahead are all directly related to learning to ice skate, controlling and passing the puck, receiving the puck, and shooting while skating with the puck. It's just a different way of learning those life skills. "
On Thursday, Dec. 22, the group form Sequoia High School visited Solar4America Ice in San Jose to watch the Sharks practice. After practice they were escorted to a private locker room, which was filled with brand new hockey equipment, including skates, jerseys, gloves and hockey bags for each of them, along with a visit from Sharks defenseman Paul Martin.
"Our hope is that with this support, the Sequoia team can have access to every resource and tool they need and therefore, can truly focus on what is most important - getting out on the ice and simply enjoying the game of hockey," said Heather Hooper, Sharks Foundation Manager.
Students had the opportunity to try out the new equipment during a free skate with Sharks players Dylan DeMelo and Matt Nieto, assistant coach Steve Spott, and assistant coach/goaltending coach Johan Hedberg. Additionally, Sharks players Kevin Labanc and Timo Meier visited with Sequoia students as they prepared to take the ice.
Now aptly named and united by their customized jerseys, during a post-skate lunch at Stanley's restaurant, the Sequoia team received a $5,000 check to cover their program's ice time for both the Spring and Fall semesters of 2017. The group will also be registered through the USA Hockey Program, making them eligible to participate in the Disabled Hockey Festival taking place at Solar4America Ice in April, as well as qualified to apply for future USA Hockey grants to continue raising the funds needed to grow their program.
The class will return to SAP Center at San Jose on Friday, Dec. 23, to watch the Sharks take on the Edmonton Oilers from a suite and take part in several Sharks experiences throughout the evening.
In addition, the Sharks Foundation will help spread awareness of special needs and adaptive ice hockey teams and further the growth of the USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Festival by funding the entry fees of participating California adaptive ice hockey teams for this year's event.
"We're seeing explosive growth in the area of Adaptive Hockey; in fact, it is one of the fastest growing segments at USA Hockey," said Kellie Hays, Pacific District Representative for USA Hockey. "These programs offer the opportunity to have fun, recreate, belong to a team, and build confidence.
"Partnering with generous organizations like the Sharks Foundation helps us remove barriers for emerging programs and shows that hockey is for everybody."
In total, the Sharks Foundation's financial contribution will be nearly $30,000 through the 2016 Big Give program.