By Ryan J. Harr
For the sixth consecutive year, a number of the Rochester Americans players traded in skates for sneakers as they took on a team of student-athletes in the annual floor hockey game at Holy Childhood.
“It is really great to have the Amerks players to come out and play a friendly game,” said Terry Brown, a player on the Holy Childhood team. “It’s also neat to have the Amerks take the time out of their day and schedules as well.”
The student-athletes at Holy Childhood have the opportunity to sign-up in various clubs and organizations throughout the school year, one of which is the school-run hockey league.
For six to eight weeks, students are taught the game of hockey by watching the sport and through hands-on instruction from Tim Baird, Holy Childhood’s physical education director and manager of recreational services of nearly 30 years.
“This event is fantastic,” said Baird. “The training I do with the students leads and builds up the students’ excitement as they take on Amerks players. When our students play the game against the Amerks, they are able to understand the sport and it brings joy and also brings out the passion the students have about hockey.”
For more than 72 years, Holy Childhood, a non-denominational, is a non-profit agency that has enriched the lives of people with developmental disabilities. Dedicated to serving students and adults in an atmosphere of dignity and compassion, the school’s mission is to prepare children and adults with developmental disabilities for maximum independence and integration in the community through individualized programs and services, in keeping with the philosophy and vision of the school’s founders.
Amerks players Justin Bailey, Kyle Criscuolo, Hudson Fasching, Taylor Fedun, Alexander Nylander and Zach Redmond participated in the game at Holy Childhood.
Later in the evening, a second group of players traveled to Churchville Elementary School to participate in another friendly but spirited game of ball hockey against the student-athletes of Lifetime Assistance.
“It is one of the highlights of the year in hockey for us,” said recreation coordinator Pat Dadey said. “In October when we start practicing for our competitions, the athletes start asking when the Amerks will be coming out, so they look forward to this every year.”
In preparation for the Special Olympics State Games competition at the end of February, the coaches play against the athletes and go over different scenarios beginning in October or November as well as go over the rules of floor hockey.
“The students look forward to the Amerks coming because after they come play against us we usually make a trip down to The Blue Cross Arena to watch them play, so our guys feel very connected to the Amerks after spending an evening together like this,” said Dadey, who’s been with Lifetime Assistance for the past 27 years. “In our Arts and Crafts program, one of our staff members works with the athletes to make personal signs that our players hold during the Amerks games.”
The Lifetime Assistance Foundation, Inc., was founded in 1994 with the intent of raising funds to secure a bright future for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Since its inception, Lifetime Assistance Foundation has been awarded more than one million dollars to fund services for people with developmental disabilities. The organization thrives on assisting individuals and families, helping them to live fulfilling lives.
Amerks players Eric Cornel, Jonas Johansson, Sean Malone and Nathan Paetsch, along with The Moose, were in attendance.