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Pennsylvania Claims "Paint America" Gold

01/08/2014, 4:00pm MST

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Pennsylvania is the gold-medal state it was announced today by The USA Hockey Foundation in wrapping up its “Paint America Red, White and Blue” fundraising campaign that spanned the month of December.
The Keystone State's 32 donations led the nation, thus giving it the gold-medal designation. Michigan was not far behind with 27 donors and Massachusetts finished third with 24 donations. Contributions also came from newer hockey markets, including Louisiana, Alabama and South Carolina. In total, some 300 people took part with more than $40,000 raised to benefit the continued advancement of hockey in the United States.
“We couldn’t be more thankful to those that participated in this very first Paint America Red, White and Blue campaign,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey and The USA Hockey Foundation. “The contributions received will help further opportunities in the sport at all levels and we are so appreciative of every single gift.”
The USA Hockey Foundation supports USA Hockey efforts that provide opportunities to disabled and disadvantaged youth; help increase participation through a variety of initiatives; enhance the safety of the game; help the U.S. be the best internationally; provide education programs for athletes, coaches, officials and parents; and celebrate the game through commemoration.

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Blind Hockey Debuts at Disabled Festival

05/18/2015, 9:45am MDT
By Kelly Erickson

Christine Osika started losing her sight as a teenager. She will always have her peripheral vision, but she’ll continue to lose her central vision. 

Osika is blind. She’s also a hockey player. 

A hockey lover all-around, Osika didn’t want to give up her favorite game due to disability. In the fall of 2014 she co-founded Courage USA to give herself and others like her across the United States the chance to play hockey. 

Osika and her Courage USA teammates debuted blind hockey at the 2015 USA Hockey Disabled Festival in Buffalo, New York. With 71 teams and 147 games from April 9-12, the new discipline drew the largest audience. It was simply another case of the human spirit conquering adversity.

“That was really nice,” Osika said of the full house cheering on her team at the festival. “That was probably the biggest crowd any of us have played in front of, let alone for blind hockey. That was really cool.”

Blind hockey players have to have 90 percent sight loss. They play with a larger puck that has noisemakers in it so the players can hear where it is on the ice. They also have one particular rule in that when the puck enters the zone, they have to make a pass before than can shoot it on net. When that pass is made, a ref blows a high-pitched whistle to let the goaltender know the puck can now be shot on net. 

Despite these specific rules and modifications to their game, the players are working at full speed, using their senses to make their way across the ice.

“I saw it quite a few times, in amazement, a player skating down the ice and feeling the presence of another skater coming in to check them, and moving away from that player,” Norm Page said, who helped organize this year’s festival. “It was incredible. It was amazing to see the human spirit. It was powerful.”

While it was the first year blind hockey was a part of the USA Hockey Disabled Festival, it was the 11th installment of the event itself. What started as a small gathering of a few programs has grown exponentially over the years.

Page noted that this year’s event needed two arenas with six different ice sheets. With sled hockey, special hockey, deaf/hard-of-hearing hockey, standing/amputee hockey, and now blind hockey, the festival celebrates these athletes who dedicate just as much time to their game as standup, sighted hockey players do. 

“It’s just incredible to see the growth,” Page said. “I think that we can relate that to so many different things, but a lot of it is the support of USA Hockey. It’s a huge piece of that. Being able to go out do things like clinics and talks with different programs, helping to teach the education piece in all aspects of hockey, and helping folks develop their own disabled programs, helping them support their own programs in the long run. I think really speaks volumes about the education process that we’ve been able to do.”

With that ongoing education and an annual spectacle of the sport, constant awareness is brought to the different disciplines of the game. Thanks to the help of USA Hockey Foundation donor dollars – which puts $25,000 toward the festival each year – the cost of the weekend is decreased, while the exposure of disabled hockey is increased. Simply because someone has a disability doesn’t mean they aren’t a hockey player.

“I’ve been doing disabled hockey for 18 years now and I don’t think we’ve ever seen — be it standup or disabled hockey — I don’t think we’ve ever seen the popularity like we are now,” Page said, who’s own son, Adam, is a Paralympic sled hockey player. “It’s things like this, getting people to see different types of hockey and understand that anybody can play the sport. 

“When we talk about USA Hockey and that hockey is for everyone, that’s really what it’s all about. We believe it and live and breathe it every day.”

The Festival and disabled hockey itself would not be possible without the efforts of everyone involved in the game. Without the help of the USA Hockey Foundation and its donors, the coaches, volunteers, and the family and friends that get the players to the ice, the sport wouldn’t be anything near what it is today.

“Without your support system, you can’t make it happen; you can’t get to the rink,” Osika said. “My husband has to bring me, or my father, or friends of mine. We can’t do it without them.”

“It’s everybody,” Page added. “It really is a complete community, starting right from the top with USA Hockey and the USA Hockey Foundation and their huge commitment to disabled hockey. It starts there and works its way right down the rinks.”

Bidding on Hockey

05/18/2015, 9:30am MDT
By Jessi Pierce

Donor profile with Charles Bidwill III

Football is in Charlie Bidwill III’s blood. It’s been a family heirloom since his grandfather, Charles W. Bidwill, purchased the National Football League’s Chicago Cardinals in 1933. The team, now in Arizona, remains in the family with Bidwill’s uncle, Bill.

With football carrying the family name, Bidwill admits it’s a part of him. But in his heart there’s hockey, a sport he’s loved since he was a kid. Only one thing ever held the Wilmette, Ill., native back from picking up a stick. 

“I couldn’t skate worth a lick,” chuckled Bidwill, who currently owns Stormy’s Tavern and Grille near his hometown in Northfield, Ill.  

Despite his lack of hockey ability, Bidwill’s passion for the sport thrived. As a ball-boy for the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals (the professional football team in St. Louis from 1960-1987; now the Arizona Cardinals) he traveled the country with his father, never missing an opportunity to see a hockey game. “If we ever hit a town that had a hockey team, I would just beg and beg my poor dad for tickets to go watch.”

When Bidwill’s son, Chad, began skating at the age of 5, his appetite for hockey grew even more. He helped behind the scenes and supported Chad in any way he could. For Bidwill, hockey represented the team-first mentality unlike any other sport.

“Football, baseball, they’re all fine team sports, but hockey is so close knit,” he explains. “You really have to focus on that team effort and you really have to work together. I love to see the growth these kids have as they come along and grasp that concept of team effort. The attitude that it’s not about me, it’s all about the team and working together. I really love that aspect of hockey most.”

That aspect is part of what drives Bidwill to give back to The USA Hockey Foundation. For the past two years he has been a member of the Circle of Champions, which recognizes donors who give $1,000 or more annually. To Bidwill, it’s a donation that makes sense to help grow the game that grew on him.

“USA Hockey does such a great job with everything,” he says. “I always try and support things that I’m interested in and organizations that I feel are doing a good job. I feel USA Hockey does a very good job and I’m happy to help in anyway I can.”

For Youngsters at Try Hockey For Free, “It Starts with a Stick”

02/24/2015, 8:45am MST
By G. Allen Johnson - Special to

Try Hockey for Free Day Presented by Kraft Events Around the Country Provided Participants with a Free Stick

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