Everything you need to know about the 7th Annual USA Hockey Disabled Festival in Blaine, Minn., April 1-3, 2011

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Festival "a Reminder That We all Need to Turn a Bad Situation Into an Opportunity"

For many people, the 6th Annual USA Hockey Disabled Festival was the first time they had seen or heard of special hockey, sled hockey, deaf hockey, or amputee hockey.  As bloggers have blogged ad reporters have reported, I've enjoyed seeing their enthusiasm -- and have been reminded of what motivated me to get involved with the American Special Hockey Association and our local teams.

One person who perfectly summarized the spirit of the festival was Kathleen, who writes a blog called DC Hawkeye. In a post titled "Hockey Changes Lives," she reflects on a particularly inspiring athlete, Joe Bowser, who was wounded in Iraq and lost a leg. He now is a member of the US National Amputee Team, which will play in the world championship next month. When I interviewed Joe for USA Hockey magazine, he told me, "I'm probably the only person you'll ever meet who chose to have his leg amputated so I could play hockey." Kathleen was touched by another quote, when Joe said, "You have to play with the cards they deal you. You have to adapt and overcome any kind of injury or disability you have and make the best of it."

On her experience at the festival, she writes: "Life is full of challenges for everyone, and it's easy to let things build up and get you down. But when I see someone like Joe Bowser play, I know that everything is going to be alright. It helps me to meet my own challenges, and it puts things into perspective...

"Like Joe Bowser says, you have to adapt and overcome. And when I consider how he has overcome obstacles that are unimaginable to me, and is such a role model for serving his country, hanging on to the sport that he loves, and working to improve the lives of others, it's a much-needed reminder that we all need to turn a bad situation into an opportunity and make it work. Watching people who have overcome obstacles greater than my own, and seeing them compete as more of an athlete than I will ever be... that is a truly moving, empowering experience."

Read Kathleen's blog post, "Hockey Changes Lives."

Read my profile of Joe and the USA Warriors, "The Warriors Way," from USA Hockey magazine.

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