“No matter what, skating always seems to bring a smile to their face. It’s priceless. You can’t beat this. It’s an easy one to come and support. It’s fun for us too.” – Jason Chimera after spending time with participants of Dreams for Kids
The Washington Capitals teamed up for the second-straight year with Dreams for Kids (DFK) to host Extreme Recess Hockey on Thursday, Feb. 2, at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Washington Capitals forwards Jay Beagle and Jason Chimera, defenseman John Erskine and mascot Slapshot skated with children with physical and developmental disabilities following the Capitals practice. Many participants were skating for the first time and the Caps players helped put big smiles on the participants’ faces.
Glenda Fu, Executive Director of Dreams for Kids, explained DFK as, “A non-profit that has life-changing programs to help empower these children with disabilities, to teach them how to give back to the community and fearlessly pursue their dreams.”
Fu stated that Dreams for Kids has done extreme recess clinics with the Washington Nationals, Washington Mystics, DC United and other local organizations, however, the Caps clinic is one of their biggest events with close to 70 kids. Clinics are absolutely free and open to children, under the age of 25, with disabilities ranging from physical to developmental. No previous ice skating or hockey experience required. If you are a parent or guardian of a child with a disability in the DC Metro Area, sign up for the DFK listserve today, and find out the latest news and events for your child.
“A lot of the kids are out here for the first time and don’t really get to do this kind of thing, so I’m glad I get to be a part of it,” Erskine said.
Many of the kids I spoke to were huge Caps fans and they really knew their stuff. Joe, age 6 from Annandale, VA was a returning participant to this event. Joe’s favorite player last year was Jason Arnott and proudly wore a #44 jersey to the clinic. Joe’s current favorite player is Troy Brouwer and offered up the statistics on his hat trick. He has high-functioning Asperger’s and stats are his thing. Joe’s mom Beth explained that Joe knows the entire Caps and Bears rosters and can recite any stat from the season. These kids are fantastic.
Chimera, Erskine, Beagle and Slapshot made their way around the ice to pose for photographs, talk a little hockey, provide skating and shooting tips and encourage them to strive for their goals. One of the best parts is having some of their sports idols here to cheer them on,” said Fu.
It was the Caps second year to host the event, however, a first for this year’s players. Unfortunately, no one from last year’s group is currently playing for the Capitals. David Steckel is now with Toronto, Matt Bradley is with Florida, Tom Poti is on long term injured reserve and Assistant Coach Bob Woods joined Broudreau in Anaheim.
Jay Beagle was not familiar with DFK before the event and was inspired. He said, “It means a lot to me to come out and have these kids out here and supporting us and I hope that I can give back and put some smiles on some faces.”
“Anytime you get kids that have a little harder time in life with disabilities and mental illness, it’s nice to see them out and having fun.” Chimera continued, “Every person out here has a smile on their face,” said Chimera. “The kids really are enjoying themselves and it makes it a lot of fun.”
I will have to agree with Jay Beagle. “This event is so much fun,” said Beagle. “It’s great to be out here skating with kids who are having a blast.”
The Capitals provided T-shirts for all of the participants and volunteers. Beagle, Chimera and Erskine also signed autographs for all of the participants during and after the event.
I was very impressed by the Dreams for Kids organization which enables children with disabilities to enjoy sports and realize their full potential to succeed in all walks of life.
About Dreams for Kids
Dreams for Kids is an international youth organization and 501(c) (3) children’s charity, with a mission to empower young people of all abilities through dynamic leadership programs and life-changing activities. By helping others find their dreams, they can realize their own. For more information about Dreams for Kids DC, visit www.dreamsforkids.org/dc.
DFK has been in the Washington, D.C., area for the past three years and continues to reach out to at-risk youth in the Washington, D.C., area. They believe and promote the uniqueness of all children and help empower them to reach their dreams, while also giving back to the community. By giving these isolated groups of children the opportunity to be leaders in sports and rigorous activities, they can see their greatness and potential in overcoming life challenges.
Cheryl Nichols is a Columnist and Photographer for District Sports Page. She is credentialed to cover the Washington Capitals and has reported on the community service and fan events for Nats News Network and Caps News Network since 2006. Cheryl is an accomplished action photographer and has been published in The Washington Post and many other local media. She was a credentialed photographer for the 2010 season covering the Washington Nationals. You can follow her on Twitter @cnichols14.