Skate your heart out for the Montgomery County Cheetahs Special Hockey Team at the Rockville Ice Arena, Saturday at 5 p.m. — the team's first major fundraiser. Funds will go to the team equipment and more ice time.
The Cheetah program, serving children as young as 5 and adults up to age 21, has used volunteer power and individual giving to support itself since 2006 when it was created. But in order to increase the amount of time players can compete and practice on the ice, the program would have to double its budget, needing to expand its donor base.
The fundraiser is the service project of two 13-year-old boys, Nate Berger and Ben Gold. With the guidance of their mothers, they pulled together the fundraiser for the hockey program for developmentally challenged youth.
The therapy of playing hockey not only improves the physical well-being of players but also teaches them lessons that will help them outside of the rink, says Sean Twombly, executive director of the program.
“The sport of hockey is based on structure. They have to learn the drills, take turns, and pass the puck. They have responsibilities and they learn how to cooperate,” explained Twombly.
The Cheetah-thon asks that skaters get sponsors to donate money as they skate with the Cheetahs. Non-skaters can participate by cheering on the participants and buying refreshments and raffle tickets.
“I think its special to be on the Montgomery Cheetahs because you get to play on a team with other people who have autism like me,” said Maurice Van Lowe, 10, who said that the tournaments were cool, describing exchange of pins between competing teams.
“I think the coaches and mentors are very nice for teaching us cool things like how to handle the puck. I love playing with my team mates because you get to know them very well,” continued Van Lowe.