Thank You!
Written by Art Redd

Thank you! Those two words can not begin to cover the gratitude felt from the Wings of Steel family. How did we get here? It’s all about relationships and networking.

In 2002 Tom Brake contacted me through our web reporting of local high school ice hockey on SJIceHockey.com. Tom wanted to know if SJIceHockey would do a piece on Sled Hockey, an adaptive sport for local youth, called the Wings of Steel. Hockey writer Mike Costantino and I met with them, took a few pictures, interviewed a few team members and wrote about Sled Hockey, hoping to raise awareness.

In 2007 Mike Costantino’s grandson, Mike “the Buddhaman” Mauger was aging out of his OT and PT programs and it was suggested the family look into an adaptive sport. The therapist asked, “Have you ever heard of Sled Hockey?” A good friend of mine often tells me, “Fate puts you were need to be or where you will be needed.” She is right. SJ Ice Hockey was now involved with the Wings of Steel family.

Tom Brake’s vision that the Wings would be available to any disabled kid who wanted to play sled hockey, at no cost to the family, was soon in jeopardy when the Wings of Steel were informed their ice time would require the regular ice time rate. To pay for ice time was nothing that the Wings would be able to cover at that time with their fundraising efforts. Folding the team was a real possibility.

The first pitch to organize a Golf Tournament to the parents, already taxed with the daily routines and needs of a disabled child, were met with ‘reserved’ enthusiasm. There would be a lot of effort involved. What did any of us know of putting together a golf outing? Mike Costantino took it on with a some brave ‘soldiers’, won over every skeptic and now has a following of players, personalities and awesome volunteers that confirm their place well in advance of next year’s tournament.

The first tournament had less than 100 players. Ramblewood now shuts down the course and it’s a full day of golf and fundraising for the Wings of Steel. It takes an almost year round effort in maintaining relationships with folks that are being asked to part with their hard-owned cash, but Mike and his crew get it done.

Your generosity continues to benefit the kids who put on their uniform for their sled hockey team without further expense to their family. The 8Th Annual Virtua Wings of Steel golf tournament at Ramblewood Country Club continues to exceed the hopes and expectations of the team.

Thank you. We hope to see you next year at the 9th Annual Virtua Wings of Steel Golf Tournament at Ramblewood Country Club. Go Wings!