The Sled Hockey Foundation (SHF) held its 2018 Dreams Come True Gala on Saturday, October 13th at Salvatore’s Italian Gardens in Depew, NY. The event was the largest of the three annual fundraising Galas to date with over 185 people attending, highlighted by Joe DiLeo and Mass Mutual New York State generously serving as the Event Presenting Sponsor. Among those in attendance included representatives from the sled hockey community, wheelchair lacrosse, the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bandits, along with many supporters and enthusiasts from the adaptive sports community. It was a tremendous evening dedicated to celebrating sled hockey, other adaptive sports, and the athletes who overcome mobility disability to be active in their communities.
Norm Page, President of the SHF Board of Directors opened the evening welcoming and thanking everyone for attending. He specifically thanked The SHF’s Board of Directors, Gala Planning Committee, and all the volunteers for making such a wonderful evening possible. Norm specially thanked all the sponsors, donors, and supporters of the SHF and Gala, offering particular thanks to Joe DiLeo for his tremendous commitment to the event.
Norm then introduced renowned sportscaster and personality Pete Gallivan, of WGRZ Channel 2 news. Pete again served as emcee and deftly moderated the evening’s events, which included a great dinner, a variety of speakers, silent, live and basket raffle auctions, music and dancing.
Pete introduced Buffalo Sabres’ Alumni defenseman Grant Ledyard (1988-1993) and welcomed and thanked him for joining in the evening. Grant was a great addition to a room full of wonderful people.
Norm recognized Dr. Yellamraju (Ravi) Kumar, Medical Director of Alden Medical Group, as this year’s recipient of the SHF’s Inspiration Award. Dr. Kumar is a founding board member of the SHF and passionate supporter of its work. Dr. Kumar’s wife, Dr. Padma Kumar, and their two sons Abhinav and Anuraag were also recognized for their commitment to the SHF’s efforts to change people’s lives. As a family, they were thanked for their tireless help to promote the foundation, raise funds, and grow meaningful connections throughout the community in support of the SHF.
Steve Wischmann, the SHF’s Executive Director, provided his State of the SHF remarks, highlighting the Foundation’s success in gaining over $100,000 in grant awards and donations over the last year, expanding sled hockey programs in Western New York, and increasing awareness of sled hockey through numerous Just Try It events at regional rinks. He commented on the SHF’s growing relationship with the Stone’s Buddies Program at Children’s Hospital and their nearly 400 participating chronically ill children, and coordination with the Wounded Warrior Project and the six events conducted to support recovering wounded veterans. Steve spoke of the exciting expansion of the SHF to promote other adaptive sports, including wheelchair lacrosse, water sports, and downhill skiing. He closed thanking everyone for their generosity in helping the SHF change people’s lives.
The Gala program included several testimonials from people inspired by Adam Page, the Founder of the SHF and Vice-President of the Board of Directors, and three-time Paralympic sled hockey Gold Medalist with Team USA. The first was April Radder, Adam’s cousin who recently published Adam’s Way, an illustrated children’s book on Adam’s life. April was followed by Rich Randall, the coach of Adam’s Buffalo Bandits wheelchair lacrosse team. His motivating comments were followed by Owen Gray, a fourth-grader at St. Mark’s Elementary School, who chose Adam as his “hero” for a school event highlighting people who inspire students. Adam then spoke and read a moving text message he received from the Quattrini family, parents of Liam, a young boy born, like Adam, with spina bifida. Adam expressed his gratitude for being a role model and inspiring others to achieve their dreams. Liam’s parents, Rebecca and Erin, offered powerful remarks about their hopes for Liam given Adam’s example in overcoming similar physical challenges to become a world-class athlete and exceptional young man.
A live auction followed the program where several exciting items were bid upon in support of the SHF. Saxman Slim then provided music as the evening closed to dancing and celebration of a tremendous evening.
The SHF thanks everyone for their generous energy and support!