Hockey goal: new sleds
In February 2002, after the regular Winter Olympics, she stared in amazement at the TV screen showing paraolympic sled hockey competition in Park City, Utah. The seated action was very fast, with the physically challenged riders strapped onto sleds amidst spraying ice and swooshing sounds. Without a second thought, Billie Bridges, treasurer of OPEN, a nonprofit organization, was drilling Gary Moore, newly appointed director of the South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena, and his assistant, Chris Perry, about the possibility of making this sport a reality for the physically challenged around the Lake Tahoe area.
“Certainly now, with such an exceptionally excellent ice arena, why shouldn’t these inspiring individuals be offered such an exuberant, positive and vigorous experience,” Bridges said.
Two extremes in cost became immediately obvious. A manufacturer in South Lake Tahoe was charging $1,000 per sled, whereas in Toronto, Canada, the charge was $400, including freight. Units can accommodate both children and adults, are lightweight and can be pushed from behind for those with total paralysis.
Judy Crawford, recreation superintendent, created a separate nonprofit account specifically to deposit all money generated for the ice arena in the name of “Great Ideas for Tahoe, Inc. OPEN agreed to sponsor the first two sleds at a cost of $800, which currently are being demonstrated during intermission at college ice hockey games in the arena and upon individual and group requests.
Veterans of Foreign Wars has agreed to buy a third “non-conventional sled.” Les Wright’s Lake Tahoe Marathon recently wrote a check to Great Ideas for Tahoe, Inc., for $750 through the efforts of members Sheila Jacobson and Marvin Weitzenhoffer, who registered runners; Jody Filgo and Special Olympic volunteers who distributed water and fruit at two stations; and OPEN member Maureen Kirkland, who spent many hours directing traffic, bagging oranges, cleaning up litter and setting up tables.
South Tahoe Middle School Club Live members, under the leadership of Larry Lambdin, designated their annual Make A Difference Day on Oct. 26 to OPEN by holding a skate-a-thon at the ice arena. They are now collecting the money that was pledged. At last count, the total pledges of $2,000 will buy five sleds.
Donors and others wishing to join this exciting endeavor can make checks to Great Ideas for Tahoe, Inc., and mail to the South Lake Tahoe Ice Skating Arena, 1180 Rufus Allen Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150. On the bottom of the check write Sled Skating/OPEN. The goal is to purchase 20 sleds.
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