On Thin Ice: Can You Help These Kids?

(The kids in this community need you...quick version...please vote!  It only takes a few minutes and you could help save a kid.  To see how, read on!  My oldest son, now 16, learned how to skate on the rink above when he was 4 years old.  The rink was built in 1938.  It is no longer fit for man or beast.  I don't think the raccoons or skunks even take up residence there now!)

Many of you that know me, know that I am a hockey-mom.  I love the sport and I love the discipline, motivation and drive it has taught my two sons and daughter.  I love the life-long friends we have made through the sport, who are truly part of my "hockey family".  There's not a thing any of those people wouldn't do for us if we were in a pinch.

Imagine your child's favorite sport.  Now imagine that the town you live in has to do away with the sport, because there is no field, court or diamond on which to play.  Such is the story I'm about to tell.
Newberry is a sleepy little town...the kind of town where your recognize everyone's car and wave to neighbors as you drive down the streets.  You can leave your car running when you go into the grocery store.  And the baggers at the grocery store still load your bags into your vehicle for you.  If your kid messes up, your neighbor will let you know.  Where else can you get that?

There is no stop light.  There is no mall.  There is no big-box super store that is open 24 hours.  And there is no hockey rink to speak of.   We live in the heart of hockey country, yet have no functional rink.  So we drive. 

And we drive.  And drive. For an hour or more, in less than optimal driving conditions to get our kids to practice and to games.  School days are talked about in the car.  Homework is done in the car.  Meals are eaten in the car.  Spelling words are studied, upset feelings are soothed, history notes are reviewed, sibling squirmishes are squelched and just about every problem ever known to a kid or teen has been solved in the car.  We rock out to tunes old and new, we tell jokes, read passages from books...we get by.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Times three for us.  (Our choice, and I'm not complaining about it, it's just the reality here.)

There's something about spending chunks of time in closed quarters with your tweens and teens that lends itself beautifully to conversation.  Hockey parents in this town probably know more about their kids than most.  Yet, it's a drag to be in peril on the frozen tundra-like roads, a drag to eat meals on wheels on a regular basis, a drag to utilize natural resources, a drag to get home at 10 pm and have to wake sleeping kids to get into the house and go to bed.

But you know what the biggest drag of all is?  To live in a family that doesn't have the money to be able to afford to play what may be your favorite sport in the world.  To be told at the age of 10, "Sorry, honey...we just can't afford that.  Gas is too expensive and the brakes on our car don't work very well.  Our tires aren't good enough to make those trips several times a week, especially in bad weather."   And that is the reality for many kids. There are kids whose names I could tell you (but I won't) who don't play for those very reasons. 

Check out the video above.  The little boy in the beginning of the video is the friend my son skated on a frozen lake with tonight. It's not ideal, but you do what you have to do for the love of the game.  I'd love nothing better than to be able to provide a follow-up video after the Pepsi Refresh Contest is over...that shows this little boy and other kids in our town actually skating on a safe rink, that is accessible and available to all...sans a wintry drive with dinner and homework on the run...and a pricetag that is prohibitive to most parents that live in our community.

Please, please, take just a few minutes and vote for this program every day during the month of January.  YOU really can make a difference in the life of a child...and if we get this grant...I'll blog the final creation and show you how you REALLY made a difference in the life of a child. 

Won't you give some of our local kids some hope that folks out there really care?  That folks took an extra minute or two to inconvenience themselves to click a few links and vote?  It costs nothing, yet the the payoff is immeasureable. 

Kids on ice are seldom in hot water.  Maybe one kid that is able to skate, to have a coach that takes an interest...a team that really cares about him or her...will not become a statistic because of it.  Maybe one kid won't smoke, won't drink, won't get high...won't get pregnant...won't check out before the game of life is really over...because there was something there that made them part of something bigger than themselves, that gave them something higher to reach for...a place to skate out their stress, or the problems that pervade their family on a daily basis...poverty...domestic violence...substance abuse.  It could happen.  YOU could help.  Please vote.

Thank you!


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