Troy resident offers free hockey and skating lessons to community with special needs

Troy resident Wyatt Lucas, 19, will be providing free hockey and skating lessons for people with special needs at the Troy Sports Center on Saturday, June 11.

Troy resident Wyatt Lucas, left, will host a hockey event for people with cognitive, physical or emotional disabilities.

Photo courtesy of Wyatt Lucas

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TROY – A Troy resident and recent graduate of Troy High School is bringing new opportunities to the local community with special needs.

Wyatt Lucas, 19, is working with Special Olympics Michigan to provide free ice skating and hockey lessons for people with cognitive, physical, or emotional disabilities at the Troy Sports Center on Saturday, June 11.

“It started several months ago,” Lucas said. “It actually started before COVID as part of an Eagle Scout project. Everything stopped, and I had to find something for my Eagle Scout project. I started a video project, but I didn’t want it to be. I am now fulfilling that promise I made at the Troy Sports Center and pursuing the idea that hockey is for everyone.

Lucas said there will be plenty of people on hand to help guests learn to skate and play a friendly hockey scrimmage. You will be able to attend exhibition matches of teams made up of players of different levels.

The all-ages event takes place at two of the Troy Sports Center rinks and includes skate rentals, hockey equipment rentals, lunch, a t-shirt for those skating and a sweater for guests trying out. hockey. No prior ice skating or hockey experience is necessary. Hands-only CPR lessons will be provided on site.

“It will be a great opportunity for individuals to learn how to ice skate,” he explained. “No prior experience is necessary as experienced skaters will be on hand to provide a stable arm. In the second rink, exhibition games will be played by teams made up of individuals with different abilities. Guests will enjoy watching these athletes play, then they will have the opportunity to get ready and play hockey.

The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 11 at the Troy Sports Center, 1819 E. Big Beaver Road. Advance registration is required and can be completed by going to www.hockeymentors.net. Those with questions can call (248) 686-6740.

Rozz Kearney, Special Olympics Southeast Michigan Region Field Services Coordinator, said working with Wyatt has been a great experience for her organization and she’s glad he decided to keep his promise. to host the program despite the obstacles caused by the pandemic.

“I can’t put words together that describe Wyatt and his tenacity to achieve a goal he has set for himself,” she remarked. “Wyatt contacted me in 2019, pre-COVID, and wanted to fundraise and host an event for Special Olympics hockey athletes. Our athletes play floor hockey or poly hockey. later because of the pandemic. Wyatt was supposed to achieve this goal before his 18th birthday for the Scouts, but despite being late, he kept going. He never gave up. That’s commendable for a young man under 18 He was unable to organize that first event, but he continues now.

Lucas has always had a passion for hockey, and it was something he wanted to make sure everyone had the chance to enjoy it like him.

“For me, I’ve always been very committed to helping the community,” he said. “I’ve been playing hockey for almost 14 years. I love it and I love seeing everyone, regardless of background, come together to enjoy it and find camaraderie. I’ve seen how it helps the military readapt to civilian life in particular.

He had previously worked with community members with special needs to help teach them hockey, but said it was usually more one-on-one.

“My previous experience was working with children with conditions such as Asperger’s syndrome or Down’s syndrome,” Lucas said. “I have worked with blind children to help them learn to play hockey. That’s all I did on my own.

“Some of our athletes have spent time with Wyatt, and many more are looking forward to his program in June,” Kearney added. “He hosted a chili fundraiser last year, and we brought a group of athletes, parents, and coaches, and it was really amazing to hang out with him.”

Lucas hopes this will become a tradition and not only introduce the sports of hockey and skating to new people, but also start a new push for the sport within the special needs community.

“The main project is one day, but I hope to make it something that we do every year,” he said. “The Troy Sports Center donated its facilities for this. Everything is run by volunteers from groups like the Troy Rotary Club. We have received donations from various individuals and organizations in the community such as the Troy Foundation.

Kearney said these programs are critical to the well-being of people with disabilities or special needs, as they are often left out or unable to experience many activities that others take for granted.

“For Special Olympics Michigan, we provide year-round athletic training and competition for children and adults with special needs,” she explained. “This has a major impact on the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. It helps build courage, physical health and development, and they meet people and join new families. The impact is very strong, and we couldn’t do what we do without the donations we receive from companies and citizens like Wyatt. …He sets an example for those who set goals and don’t give up.

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