An upcoming sledge hockey tournament will help ensure everyone has access to the sports they love.
The event will raise funds for the Cederstrand Foundation.
Chris Cederstrand is an above-the-knee amputee and former Team Canada sledge hockey player.
Before he lost his right leg to a heavy machinery accident, hockey was a big part of Cederstrand's life.
Sledge hockey allowed him to continue with his passion, taking him to several national and international competitions before retiring from the sport in 2017.
He started the foundation to help adaptive athletes with the cost of equipment required for these sports, which often fetch a high price, especially if they're custom-made.
"We're there to help out with those monetary hurdles that people hit when you've had something traumatic happen in your life and you want to get out there and be active again. Sport has given me so much over my life and I know the help it gave me when I had my accident, it was such a huge part of my life beforehand with hockey and everything. To be able to give that back to people, it helps them out immensely and it gives them that independence and freedom to get back out on the ice and be out there playing hockey, or basketball, or running, it's such a huge component in recovery."
Cederstrand says the idea came from a local hockey team that provided him with that kind of support after hearing his story.
"I had a group of ladies here from Okotoks. I talked to their kids' hockey team, and they decided they were going to get me the prosthetic leg I needed to become a firefighter again. Once they achieved that goal, we had some leftover funds and ultimately decided it would be really cool to be able to give back to the people who were so incredibly generous to help me out. That was sort of the start of it."
The tournament is the foundation's first big fundraiser event and will be played by teams who aren't actually seasoned sledge hockey players.
It'll feature six teams in total, including teams comprised of members of Okotoks town council, the Okotoks and High River fire departments, and a celebrity team featuring Olympians and NHL alumni.
The teams will duke it out on the Centennial's Green Arena, which will be divided into three surfaces.
Cederstrand says it's sure to be quite a spectacle, as the fundamentals of sledge hockey aren't what you might expect.
"It's a very humbling thing. Even though it's hockey you almost need to think of it as playing soccer. In soccer, your legs are your mode of mobility and you're having to dribble the ball while running. That's essentially the same as sledge hockey. So many people get in there, get the puck on their stick, and start stick handling. They're passing it under their sled but the one thing they're not doing while stick handling is moving.... You get people who are guys who've played hockey their whole life and they get into a sled and it's just a completely foreign thing to them, and someone who might not be as athletic but understands that puck movement piece, they pick it up all of a sudden."
About halfway through the event, locals will be able to try their hand at the sport. From about 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., there will be a "Try-It" segment where members of the public can give sledge hockey a go.
A silent auction will also run at the event, and Cederstrand says it's seen a lot of support.
"We've had some amazing donations come in. We had the Flames Foundation donate tickets and a signed jersey, we had George Canyon donate a whole bunch of swag, we had Goodlife Fitness here in Okotoks donate a three-month pass and a whole bunch of gym swag, we had the San Jose Sharks donate a signed team jersey. There's a whole rash of stuff."
The event will be held tomorrow, Saturday, Nov. 25 at the Centennial Green Arena from 2:30-5:30 p.m.
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