The Condors are an incredibly special group of guys, and not because they all have developmental challenges. The thing that made them so special is how open, accepting and happy they all are. Several kids came up to me to say hello and shake my hand. They give hugs and pats on the back with more regularity than most people make eye contact with you. And they smiled all day long. By the time yesterday was over, my face hurt more than my legs, because I hadn't stopped smiling all day long.
I was also tremendously impressed with the West Valley Wolves, all of whom came out AND helped raise money.
Their teammate Kyle Woo is the kid I mentioned in my first blog post about this event. This was his idea, and being a small part of helping it come to fruition was absolutely the best part of my weekend. And special thanks to which ever one of the Wolves it was who made sure I didn't wipe out completely when I ran into him!It was also very special to have some representatives from the Kings come out and support the event. Current player Rich Clune, color commentator Daryl Evans, Fox Sports game announcer Jim Fox, and Kings Vice-President of Hockey Operations and Hall of Famer Luc Robitalle all represented the Kings well. They all made sure every kid had signed photos before they left.
I have to say, Daryl is my absolute favorite, and kids just LOVE him. He just radiates fun an positivity, and by then end of the afternoon he had some kids doing sprint drills on one side of the ice and loving every minute of it!
And I know it's wrong to have a "favorite" among the Condors, but Will Poulos is just the greatest!
Will has cerebral palsy, and got started skating playing roller hockey as part of his therapy to help control his ability to walk. Hockey has been good for Will, because he walks pretty normally, talks up a storm, and is a world class flirt! So my girlfriends and I just had to get a photo with him!
Will is also a Anaheim Ducks fan, but I forgive him that fact because he's a cool kid. When I asked him why he liked the Ducks, he said because they won a Stanley Cup in 2007. So I made him promise me he would root for the Kings when they win a Cup. Now I have to pass that challenge on the the Kings and make them deliver!
OK, so we all had a lot of fun, but this is a fundraiser, right? SHOW ME THE MONEY! I spoke with Ethan Rill, the coach of the Condors, to confirm the total amount that was raised since I couldn't clearly hear all the announcements made out on the ice (raffles, etc.). He said their goal was $10,000, which would cover airfare for 10 kids and their parents to attend the Jim Gregory Special Needs Hockey Tournament. We not only met that goal, we blew it out of the water! The event raised $21,000 - enough to send the kids to the tournament and have money left over to help support the ongoing administration costs of the program.
While I don't have a way to thank ALL the special people involved in this wonderful event, I have to say a special thanks to my friends who came out and made it such as fantastic day for the Condors AND me. Jen and Brianna Wells, their parents, Chelsea Alexander, Roger Oliver, Glenda Barillas, and of course the one and only Nadine Donat - I love you all, and can't wait to skate with you again soon!
And the biggest thanks to Ethan Rill and the Condors, for proving that hockey IS for everyone!