Last year's inaugural UCT Winter Hockey Festival for special hockey athletes was held at Ottawa Park Ice Rink in Toledo.
The outdoor event was such a success that it's returning to Ottawa Park on February 16-17.
The UCT Winter Hockey Festival is a two-day event that brings together American Special Hockey Association teams from across the Midwest — but these are no ordinary hockey teams — they are extraordinary in their accomplishments. ASHA teams are comprised of male and female athletes of all ages with develop¬mental and intellectual disa¬bilities and are broken down into skill levels as opposed to age or experience. Playing on special hockey teams gives players the chance to develop social skills and practice teamwork. Most importantly, it provides an outlet for fun.
ASHA is a volunteer-driven association created especially to benefit players with disabilities. ASHA President Mike Hickey cites some of the most common of these disabilities as autism, Down syndrome, Tourette syndrome, cerebral palsy and ADD/ADHD. There are currently over 50 ASHA programs in more than 30 cities through¬out the U.S. Nine special hockey teams from Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania are expected to take part in this year's special hockey festival. One of the teams, the Black Swamp Ice Frogs, is Toledo-Bowling Green based and was formed in response to last year's festival.
UCT, a non-profit membership organization based in Columbus, is a longtime supporter of individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. A partnership was formed in January 2010 between UCT and ASHA, and UCT is helping to promote special hockey nationally and locally. UCT will present a $20,000 donation to ASHA at this year's festival and will also honor Ohio State Representative Barbara Sears of the 47th House District, which includes parts of Lucas and Fulton counties, with the UCT Service Award. Rep. Sears will be recognized for her advocacy and support for individuals with developmental disabilities. She will drop the festival's honorary puck at noon on February 16.
Ottawa Park Ice Rink is located at 2200 Bancroft at Ottawa Parkway in Toledo. Festival admission is free, and games start at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
UCT is a non-profit financial services membership organization. UCT members give back by engaging in community service projects or by buying insurance policies — or both. UCT's non-profit status means that instead of paying dividends to shareholders, our insurance operations help support members’ local community service efforts across the U.S. and Canada. Visit www.uct.org for more information.