A special education hockey team received a new piece of equipment in a special revealing ceremony that will help them avoid injuries and improve their game.

This Saturday, the Black Swamp Ice Frogs, the special education hockey team from the Bowling Green area, received a new piece of equipment called the Kaye Trainer that will help team members who are a little shaky on walking skills in moving around on the ice better and improve their skill in the University’s Ice Arena.

The Kaye Trainer was donated by Randy Young and his council in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Randy Young is the past international president of United Commercial Travelers, a nonprofit financial service membership organization that supports causes and communities across America.

“The history of UCT is pretty extensive and there’s a lot of connections,” says young. “UCT was started in 1888 by two traveling salesman and dues were $5 that they placed in a jar to draw from when their families needed it. It’s grown into so much since then.”

Jen Chillinsky, community outreach manager for UCT, said UCT is an organization that provides a lot of services and is interested in various causes.

“Four years ago, UCT needed an organization to aid with intellectual and mental disabilities and we got involved with the Ice Frogs. Our first Winter Hockey Fest was held in Toledo, Ohio and to date we’ve raised $25,000,” Chillinsky said. “This January, our next Winter Hockey Fest will be in January in Bolencia, California. We host them and travel from the West to East coast each year. It’s an easy way for families who don’t have that much money to get involved.”

The Kaye Trainer is a swing like device that is used in rehabilitation centers for hip and leg injuries. Two teams from the American Special Hockey Association discovered the device and thought it would be useful to help others on the ice.

The device is foolproof so players cannot fall and has a special crank to increase or lower their body weight for more agility and assistance, Chillinsky said.

The device is $3,600 and results from the device are heralded as phenomenal, she said.

“It’s excellent,” said Michael Howick, one of the coaches of the Black Swamp Ice Frogs. “My son Jack, who is nine, is a player on the team and he was diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome. The skaters and the immense parent involvement make the team special. They wanna see the kids be in a program like this and succeed and have fun.”

Young said the device is a great aid to the kids and their game.

“The device is great because it’s a safe way for the kids to get out on the ice,” he said. “It helps them immensely, especially since a lot of them were unable to walk in the beginning. It’s safe and the kids have

a blast.”

The parents are an important part of the kids’ success on and off the ice and are equally excited about the new device.

“The blessing of the new device is unbelievable,” said Joyce Norman, mother of Kyler Norman, a player on the Black Swamp Ice Frogs. “These kids would never get to be on the ice, but with the device, they can be typical kids and play. I adopted Kyler when he was born; he was born addicted to cocaine. This is one of the best programs and he’s been involved and moving around, even skating and walking without

his walker.”

Kyler loves his teammates and the new device.

“I’ve been skating since kindergarten,” Norman said. “My favorite part of the whole thing is being on the ice with my friends.”

Sonya Reeves, mother of Sophia Reeves, is grateful for the device and the team for her daughter Sophia.

“Sophia is nine and she has [Down’s] Syndrome, brain damage and is autistic,” Reeves said. “She goes to Fort Maigs in Perrysburg and she loves it. I saw an email last year about the team and I emailed Michael Howick. He gave Sophia all the equipment she needed and worked with her. She cried so much and was a drama queen when she first got on the ice, but now she loves it.”

The goal for UCT is to provide Kaye Trainers for every special hockey team in the U.S and Canada.

“We are the official sponsors of ASHA,” Chillinsky said. “We’ve raised $25,000 which can buy nine Kaye Trainers, but our ultimate goal is to raise $182,500 to buy Kaye Trainers for all 85 special hockey programs across the U.S and Canada. Anyone can donate or volunteer at UCT.org.”

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