The Special Olympics program is all about communities caring and this past week, local businesses and government pitched in to help outfit the newly formed floor-hockey team.
The Road Runners floor hockey team, organized and coached by Ben Postmus, received brand new helmets, sticks, gloves, shin guards and jerseys thanks to donations from Kootenay Savings, Mallards Sports, Columbia Filter, the Regional District Area A, and the Village of Fruitvale.
“We’ve had lots of support, it’s really been incredible,” said Postmus.
Proponents each donated funds to purchase 11 sets of equipment for the players so they can participate in team sport.
“To be able to see them enjoying this and for Ben, for the work that he does, it’s awesome,” said Fruitvale village council member Patricia Cecchini.
With additional help and mentoring from Beaver Valley Nitehawk players, the team is looking to play exhibition games this year and have one eye on the 2013 Special Olympics in Korea.
The team is backstopped by solid goaltending from Stuart Hawton, combining the speed and skill of William Thatcher, with the toughness of “Big Guy” Joey Ward, the exuberance of Kayleigh Postmus, and leadership of Cody “the Hammer” Simmons, the first-year squad looks poised and ready to compete.
“They’re really keen to be here,” said Postmus. “We’re going to actually try to go on to the Special Olympics, qualify at regionals and move on.”
The squad consists of 11 players who practice every Tuesday at Fruitvale Elementary.
Postmus works the players hard, running drills and exercises before scrimmaging with the Nitehawks.
“Last week, I had so much sweat in my eyes, I could hardly see the puck,” said Simmons.
The local chapter of the Special Olympics has enabled athletes with disabilities to participate in sports such as swimming, bocce, bowling and skiing.
Hawton swam in the provincial and Canadian Special Olympics last year while Simmons competed in bowling at the provincials. Both men are hockey fans and are excited about pulling on the Road Runner jersey.
“I did the bowling for four years, and when I found out about this I thought, with the Nitehawks on board, it’ll be great fun,” Simmons added.