Five months ago, Kyle didn’t think he was going to be a hockey player, let alone an upright hockey player.
Kyle, who lives with a severe physical disability, used a chair to play hockey with his Regina SuperHERO teammates. But on Saturday, he was gifted with a Kaye Trainer by the Regina Rebels Hockey Club which allows him to skate while standing.
Before he joined the SuperHEROS, Kyle had one word in his vocabulary. But since joining he’s added the words “hockey” and “shoot,” and on Saturday he yelled, “look at me!”
“We always saw him as a hockey player, but today he saw himself as a hockey player,” said Kevin Hodgson, executive director of HEROS, an organization that provides skating opportunities to boys and girls with cognitive and physical challenges.
Kyle’s dream was made possible thanks to funds raised by a group of 11-year-old girls who play for the Regina Rebels Pee Wee B team.
Through bottle drives and raffles, the team was able to purchase Western Canada’s first Kaye Trainer – to be used by those like Kyle. The device even allows those in wheelchairs the opportunity to skate.
“Every sport should be played by everybody who wants to do it,” said Mila Snell, who plays left wing for the Regina Rebels.
Her sister, Ava who also has cognitive challenges, is Kyle’s teammate.
“We wanted to help him skate. That’s what SuperHEROS is all about,” said Snell.
Playing stand-up hockey, or sledge hockey, hasn’t been an option for many players with significant physical challenges said Hodgson.
“But it doesn’t change the fact that they still want to play,” Hodgson said.
For players such as Kyle, the weight bearing device proves they still have options.
“Everyone talks about how hockey is for everyone, but we’re not there yet. We have a lot of work to do and this is another step,” Hodgson said.
Although Regina has the only Kaye Trainer in Western Canada, Hodgson promises it won’t be the last.
“Knowing it’s possible and doable means we have to keep doing more of it.”