Persons, places and things: Pro-life at the rink

Barb Arland-Fye

On Sundays at the ice rink I have the privilege of witnessing a pro-life movement that has become apparent to me over time. Last Sunday, the final session of “Sled Hockey” season provided a perfect example.
Sled Hockey is played by children and adults — with and without disabilities — seated in sleds and holding short hockey sticks with grippers that help to propel the players around the ice rink. Some of the players have “pushers” who push the sleds using push bars.
After an hour-and-a-half on the ice, players get help with removal of helmets, pads, gloves and jerseys before eating snacks prepared by moms and other volunteers.
For the spring session’s finale, players and caregivers stayed for pizza, potluck and awards.
As we ate, my attention turned to a dad feeding pizza to his slightly built teenage son who was seated on the dad’s lap. Dad had a tender look on his face as he gently coaxed his son to take another bite of pizza. It seemed like such a sacred moment. The scene touched me deeply because I have watched the dad and his wife, the boy’s mother, interact with their son over time. He has significant health challenges, but I’ve never heard his parents complain.
During the Sled Hockey season, the mom calls out words of encouragement from the stands and the dad often serves as his son’s pusher. Sometimes the boyfriend of the couple’s teenage daughter volunteers as pusher.
Other examples of the pro-life movement at the rink include the dad who repairs sleds and makes sure that every player has the right-size sled. This dad has a son with Down’s syndrome who plays sled hockey and another son who assists both his dad and his brother. Their sense of humor is delightful.
Sled Hockey is full of pro-life examples, beginning with the couple who introduced Sled Hockey to the Quad-City region 14 years ago. They wanted another recreational activity for their son, who uses a wheelchair, and other individuals with disabilities.
The couple make sure that trophies are awarded at the end of each season. The players beam when their names are called to receive their well-earned trophies. As Jesus calls each of us by name because we matter, during the Sled Hockey season we take his message to heart.
Barb Arland-Fye

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