BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) — The Southern Connecticut Storm Hockey program is making a difference for kids and young adults with disabilities.
For over a decade, it has been part of the American Special Hockey Association. It’s a theraputic program that teaches through skating and hockey skills.
Debbie McQuilkin and Jon Corcoran co-foundered the Storm 14 years ago.
“We’ve seen so many little miracles all the time,” McQuilkin said of her program.
“Our goal is to get them to smile,” added Corcoran.
Every weekend at the Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport they hit the ice. Two sessions, 60 skaters, some just getting started, others with a little more experience.
“Some kids can do more than others and the ones who can do more help the other ones,” Corcoran explained.
“The premise of the program is life skills,” McQuilkin added. “We’re teaching them and they don’t even know it.”
Right in the middle of it all, NHL star Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers.
“This is probably my favorite thing I do every week,” Kreider told Sports Team 8’s John Pierson. “They’re so passionate; they have so much fun out there. They impove so much week to week, it’s really infectious. It makes me appreciate hockey so much more.”
Corcoran said of Kreider, “He loves it, he’s a big kid. Rarely do you see world-class athletes like that give up his time.”
McQuilkin said, “He gets our program and he gets that each child is an individual and is learning something different…We’ve had kids that have started talking for the first time, kids that have dressed themselves for the first time in 14 years. Every step they make we make as well.”
Kreider is part of a small army of mentors working with the program. Once you’re in, it’s like a family, enriching each others’ lives.
The program runs through March. If you have an athlete, want to mentor, or donate check out ctstormhockey.org.