BALLSTON, Va. (WUSA9) -- This past Friday I had the pleasure of attending the 5th annual Extreme Recess with the Washington Capitals.
The Washington Capitals, Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation, Dreams For Kids DC (DFKDC) and Michael & Son Services made the event possible with their devotion to helping special needs children.
The clinic offers children with special needs the opportunity to venture off the sidelines and from behind the glass to enjoy skating and sledding with their favorite Capitals players and volunteers.
Organized by DFKDC, the event not only empowers children with disabilities to see their full potential, but also helps them see that their disability doesn't have to prevent them from fulfilling their dreams.
189 total volunteers, parents and children showed up to let loose and have some fun while hitting the ice with their favorite Caps players. This year Extreme Recess welcomed coach Barry Trotz, left wings Aaron Volpatti and Andre Burakovsky, and defensiveman, Karl Alzner.
As I slid all over the ice, I took a few moments to take in what I was seeing. I saw humanity at its best. I couldn't stop smiling at the happiness and excitement these children were radiating; it was contagious.
While getting ice time with some of the Capital players is a huge plus, it isn't the only reason the kids come out. Angelika Mielezsko, volunteer and babysitter to a bright young man, William, agrees, "It's a great event, great environment. William just really enjoys being on the ice."
It was great to see the coach and players join in on the fun, passing pucks back and forth, and occasionally getting scored on. "It's humbling to see the kids play the game you grew up playing, it brings back childhood memories," capitals left wing, Aaron Volpatti stated.
After the group picture the majority of the children, volunteers and players left the ice, leaving only a few behind to skate/sled a bit longer.
Capitals coach, Barry Trotz, stayed behind to skate, chat and take photos with the children. It was evident that he had a genuine interest in making connections with the each and every one of them.
The most important roll Trotz plays is off the ice; being a father to his teenage son, Nolan, who was born with Down syndrome.
"As a special needs parent you like these events as a social activity for your kids that they may not get as often. The action stimulates creativity and confidence; it gets to be a lonely place so these events are great for that reason," Trotz explained
Coach Trotz is the first and only coach to attend DFKDC's Extreme Recesses.
The Extreme Recess event is not limited to skating and sledding.
"We offer a wide variety of Extreme Recesses-from dancing and cooking, to waterskiing! Seeing the smiles on the faces of the children keeps me motivated as well as hearing stories from our parents of how the Extreme Recesses have changed their children's lives!" Glenda Fu, the Executive Director of DFKDC. said.
This was such a wonderful and humbling event. Major thanks to Glenda Fu of DFKDC, Elizabeth Pace and Peter Robinson from Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation. Their extreme kindness and dedication to these children is what makes Extreme Recesses so successful.