(Photos by Fran Sullivan)
Pete Gallivan, Cody Rapp, Easton Rapp, and Adam Page at The Sled Hockey Foundation Gala
The Sled Hockey Foundation (SHF) held it’s 2017 Grassroots to Gold Medals Fundraising Gala on Saturday, September 23rd at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens in Depew, NY. With 140 people attending, the SHF was honored to have representatives from the sled hockey community, including Warrior sled athletes from the VA Hospital program, their families and friends, along with many supporters and enthusiasts of the sport. It was a great evening to celebrate sled hockey and the athletes who overcome mobility disability to be active in the sport and their communities.
Norm Page, President of the SHF Board of Directors, opened the evening welcoming everyone and introducing renowned sportscaster and personality Pete Gallivan, of WGRZ Channel 2 news. Pete served as emcee and artfully orchestrated the evening’s events, which included fine food, a variety of speakers, live and basket raffle auctions, musical entertainment, and dancing.
Buffalo Sabres’ Alumni Craig Muni and Darryl Shannon spent the evening entertaining guests with their hockey stories and sharing their views with the crowd on the importance of sports in the lives of all athletes, particularly those with disabilities. They expressed their appreciation for what the SHF was accomplishing for children and adults through the power of sport – having hearts that are bigger than the challenges.
Janice Barrett, Managing Partner of Grant Builders, Inc., was this year’s recipient of the Inspiration Award. A beautifully hand-crafted wooden replica of an adaptive sled hockey sled was presented to Jan by Norm Page, President of the SHF Board, and Steve Wischmann, Acting Executive Director. The award recognized Jan’s long-standing commitment to the Sled Hockey Foundation and her supportive counsel on non-profit management, fundraising, and securing grant funds for the organization.
Darryl Shannon and Craig Muni
Steve Wischmann provided his State of the SHF, highlighting the Foundation’s success in gaining $85,000 in grant awards over the last year, expanding sled hockey programs in Western New York, and growing awareness of sled hockey through numerous Just Try It events at regional rinks, including in Rochester, Jamestown, Lockport, Amherst, and at Canalside in Buffalo. He closed by thanking everyone in attendance for their ongoing support and generosity.
Right: Janice Barret presented with the Inspiration Award alongside Norm Page and Steve Wischmann
The highlight of the evening was hearing from area sled hockey athletes. The Grassroots to Gold Medals theme came to life as Easton Rapp (7), Madison Eberhard (16), and Adam Page (25) spoke of their personal journeys. Pete Gallivan provided compelling interviews with the athletes gaining a unique insight into the experiences of each of these athletes.
Easton, an amazing seven-year old boy, and his father Cody, talked about being inspired by Adam Page to pursue the sport. Easton is redefining what Spina Bifida looks like for anyone who meets him.
Left: Easton Rapp, his father Cody Rapp, and Sandy Page at The Sled Hockey Gala
Madison Eberhard, a sophomore in high school, began playing with the Buffalo Sabres Jr. team in 2011 and at the age of 13 was selected for the USA Women’s National Sled Hockey Team. Madison, who was born with Larsen Syndrome, has traveled throughout the United States and the world to play her sport.
Right: Sled athlete Maddy Eberhard and her mother, Julie
Finally, Adam Page, a two-time Paralympic Gold Medalist addressed the crowd. As founder of the Sled Hockey Foundation, Adam works tirelessly to ensure that other kids with disabilities have the same opportunities that he has had to thrive in a sport that has given him so much.
By all accounts, it was a great night. The SHF is already looking forward to its next Gala!
Marilyn Kore, Dr. Jerry Cataldo, and Dr. Arlene Burrows