Tuesday, October 7, 2014

If Something Doesn't Exist...Create It

Jesse Campbell & Christopher Erhart
The following article appeared in The Cottage Connection newspaper recently:

If something doesn’t exist…create it.  That’s what Carol Fisher did 5 ½ years ago.  Realizing that Peterborough didn’t have a program allowing girls, boys, teens and adults with special needs to play hockey, she quickly set about to change that and the Komets were launched.  

Now, preparing for season # 6, the Kawartha Komets Special Needs Hockey Program has grown to include over 60 players on 4 teams.

Aspiring hockey players who felt or were told that they would never play hockey can now don their skates, pull on a “real” Komets hockey sweater and play the sport they love.

Can you envision a blind player strapping on his goalie pads and getting between the posts to face shots he cannot see?  A player with a pacemaker?  A young boy with a heart transplant?  They’ve all suited up for the Komets.  The team has players with Asperger’s Syndrome (high functioning autism), Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome and various other diagnoses.  Most of them never had an opportunity to play hockey and the few that did eventually discovered that the gaps between them and their teammates had become too noticeable.

Words like acceptance, inclusive, understanding and non-judgmental describe the atmosphere in the Komets’ dressing rooms and among the parents and families.  Parents with children having similar barriers can watch a game in the stands and compare notes on the challenges they face.

Players enjoy a practice or game every week from mid October to March with the season culminating in an International Tournament.  The Komets sent a strong contingent to this year’s gathering in Fraser, Michigan where memories were made that will last forever.  Teams will travel to Ottawa next March for the 2015 Special Hockey International Tournament.  These tournaments aren’t “cheap” when you consider bus charters, hotel accommodations, registration fees, etc.  Every season the Komets are out raising funds and seeking partners to help make the “tournament experience” a reality.

The Komets are grateful for the support of businesses and organizations in the area.  The Peterborough Lions Club, the Kinsmen Club, the Scott’s Plains Kiwanis Club and the Rotary Club of Peterborough-Kawartha have been very generous and supportive.

Players travel to games in Peterborough from Lindsay, Campbellford, Bancroft and many other towns in the area making the team not just a Peterborough entity but one that encompasses a wide area.

The Komets have enjoyed the sponsorship of Mary McGee, widow of the late Jack McGee, over the past two seasons and again for the upcoming year.  Mary wanted to honour her husband by generously getting behind a worthwhile cause that he would have supported.  She chose the Komets.

The Connection spoke to Sheryl Over from Overstock Liquidation, who recently held a fundraiser for the Komets, asking what led her to get involved: “The Komets fill a gap in the community for people with disabilities. The teams provide a sense of belonging where the players can meet people with similar abilities or “disabilities” and form friendships”  This is truly important for people with special needs. Every person enjoys spending time with people with similar interests and abilities, it’s how we form friendships, this is something the Komets provide for individuals with disabilities. A sense of community and the opportunity to connect with others with similar challenges, as well as the opportunity to participate in a sport they love”.

Recently the Kawartha Komets were granted registered charitable status with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Written by David Fisher 

For more information on the Komets, check out their web site @ www.kawarthakomets.com or contact Carol Fisher, at (705) 750-0655.  You can register online and there is never a waiting list.

The Jack McGee Kawartha Komets…”Making Dreams Come True.”

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