Capitals Volunteer For A Great Cause
Editor's note: In a guest post, a parent who attended the Dreams for Kids Extreme Recess event, Julie Roemele, gives us her perspective. Hockey Shopped's Brendan Sheridan has also participated in this event for the last 3 years as a mentor/volunteer.
On Friday, February 8, Dreams for Kids DC held their annual Extreme Recess with the Washington Capitals for 100 children with physical and developmental disabilities. I’ve attended this event with my son Joshua for the past three years. It’s one of the highlights of our year. When the lockout was in progress, it looked like the event wouldn’t happen. Luckily, as soon as the lockout ended, Glenda Fu, Executive Director of Dreams for Kids DC, was able to schedule Extreme Recess with the Washington Capitals.
When the day came, Joshua and I went to Kettler Capitals Iceplex. After we checked in, we received our t-shirts and our passes to skate. Joshua was matched with a volunteer who would help him throughout the event. His volunteer, George, was amazing. Joshua is a ball of energy and needed someone to keep up with him. George is a firefighter in Prince Georges County, MD so he was up for the task. I will add that George worked the night before and still came out to volunteer. The people who volunteer for Dreams for Kids are amazing individuals.
After being paired with George, Josh was supposed to watch the Capitals practice. He probably spent the majority of the time with George chasing him up and down the stairs. George told me to relax and that he would take care of Josh. After practice, they ate pizza donated by The Front Page of Arlington. With their bellies full, George helped Josh put on his skates and headed out to the ice.
Once on the ice, they were greeted by Jason Chimera, Braden Holtby and Tomas Kundratek as well as Slapshot. Chimera was at the event last year and it was nice to see him out there again. Holtby joked with a kid about their Varlamov jersey. Kundratek was pushing sleds and taking kids by the hand to skate. Even with a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the night before, all the players had smiles on their faces.
Joshua skated around the ice, zooming in and out of the other kids with George skating behind him. For those who wanted to practice their hockey skills, small nets were set up with pucks. Kettler skating staff were also on hand to assist those who needed help on the ice.
The session was wrapped up by a group photo. Chimera plopped down on the ice in front of us and Joshua proceeded to tell Chimera that he’s bald and even rubbed his head. Yep, that’s my kid. Thankfully, Chimera has a good sense of humor and asked Josh, “Did you take it?” When Hockey Shopped talked with Chimera about the event he mentioned "I’ve got two kids. It certainly puts things in perspective. I’m fortunate to have healthy kids. Regular parenthood is pretty difficult in itself, and you see kids with special needs, and the volunteers and parents and you kinda realize what they go through in some sort of way. Sort of puts life in perspective for sure, its just one of those things, you come out here and the kids are smiling and you realize that they go through a tough time on a daily basis and to see them smile, it just warms your heart to see that stuff."
Kundratek, who had done previous charity work while in Hershey thought the event was a great time. "It was awesome, it was a great experience. It was my first time here [volunteering in DC] and so many great kids out there and it was just a great experience."
Joshua and I first became involved with Dreams for Kids DC when we attended their Extreme Recess: Water Skiing event held on Pohick Bay in the summer of 2010. We heard about the organization from one of the parents of his NOVA Coolcats Special Hockey teammates. We were hooked after we attended that event where he got to go tubing on the water. The organization puts a lot of effort into their events relying heavily on interns, volunteers and sponsors. Other events we have attended have included: Extreme Recess with the Washington Nationals, Extreme Recess Soccer with DC United, Extreme Recess: Yoga and Dance held at Marymount University, Extreme Recess Tennis at Citi Open, Extreme Recess Football with Tyler's Kids Outreach (Washington Redskin Tyler Polumbus), along with the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) as well as Extreme Recess Basketball with the Washington Mystics.
Another special needs organization that we're involved in is KEEN DC (Kid Enjoy Exercise Now). It's a wonderful organization where those with disabilities can play with a mentor on a bi-weekly basis.
A huge thanks to the following for putting on this wonderful event: Dreams for Kids, the Washington Capitals and the sponsor Michael & Son Services as well as the Front Page Arlington for supplying the pizza, Maxxum Realtors & Associates for sponsoring the photography and Mundovision sponsoring for the videography.
Editor's note: As a Capitals fan and fan of volunteering, you are provided a wide array of opportunities to give back to the community. At Hockey Shopped, we love promoting and taking part in these events. Every time we go out and lay some new paint down on an elementary school in need, or help a kid who has special needs with their skating, we are doing something for the community that it may not be able to do for itself. Keep up to date on all community events via Caps Care. We'd love to see you out there with us at the next event which we hear is April 20th at Fort Dupont. Be on the look out for more community-related articles soon!