There honestly isn’t anything new on the Lightning front, except for the hire of Robert Canton as the new executive vice president of finance and strategic planning. There’s nothing newsworthy on the NHL front as a whole, nothing that I’d like to tell you about anyway. What? The CBA? OK, here’s the scoop for tomorrow. They’re gonna meet. Again. Nothing’s going to get done. Again. Gary Bettman’s still a creep in my opinion. (And yes, I know that this whole CBA thing doesn’t rest solely on his shoulders, I just don’t care for the guy. Never have been able to.) However, there is something that I think is worthy of being shared, and that is the accomplishments of Declan Farmer, a Tampa Bay Lightning sled hockey player.
Declan Farmer was born with a deformation in both of his hips and legs. At a year old he learned to walk with prosthetics, and he was skating with them by the time that he was eight. He doesn’t let the fact that he is now a congenital double amputee hold him down at all. In fact, he has shown us all how to turn a ‘dis’ability into an ability. Declan is one of the most inspiring fourteen year olds that I have ever hear of. He is heading into the ninth grade at Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa. Declan has tried out soccer, sailing, and even snowboarding. However none of them made him feel the way that hockey does.
In April of 2012 the Lighting sled hockey team, coached by Mike Celona, won a national championship in a sweep of the 2012 USA Disabled Hockey Open “A” Tournament in Dallas, Texas. Farmer also has already played in international competition for a team called the Patriots under USA Hockey. Declan has been named to the 2012-2013 United States Sled Hockey Team. He will attend the first training camp next month, and there will be a monthly tournament for the rest of the year. There are three international tournaments; one to be held in the USA, one in Canada, and one in South Korea. He will be playing along side Lighting sled hockey teammate Greg Shaw, who competed in the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver. Farmer hopes to bring home a Paralympic Gold Medal in 2014 where the team will play in Sochi, Russia.
“He’s creative and he’s able to anticipate openings for plays to develop,” said Declan’s father, Matt. “Hockey is his game because it is a perfect combination of speed, strength, and smarts.”
The director of the Lightning Foundation was told about sled hockey by a college student with Cerebral Palsy, who was surprised when the Foundation started up a Lightning team. They are more than generous by donating ice time, gear, a coach, uniforms, and even a large part of their traveling expenses. The Lightning organization gave us a chance to watch the sled hockey team play after a regular Lightning game last season.
Sled hockey is a spin on the traditional sport that uses a sled made of aluminum tubing instead of skates. They have two shortened sticks with a pick on the end to help them sail across the ice. It’s a wonderful sport that allows people with disabilities play hockey.
Good luck Declan and Greg! And everyone on the team.