To the Editor:
The Fort Drum Mountain Warriors Sled Hockey team would like to thank the North Country community for their overwhelming support of the 5th annual Mountain Warrior Sled Hockey Tournament held March 3rd-5th at SUNY Canton.
Throughout the weekend, nearly 100 wounded soldiers and disabled athletes from 6 teams across New York state and Canada were warmly welcomed with support of many local businesses, organizations, and individuals and treated to another fantastic tournament. From the moment the first puck dropped at 7 a.m. Friday morning, the energy and excitement of every participant and spectator could be felt throughout the entire CARC Center. The athletes enjoyed fierce competition throughout the weekend and, more importantly, a camaraderie unmatched in any other sport. This year, the Durham Steelhawks of Ontario, Canada defended their championship title and the Kingston Knights of Kingston, Ontario placed second, Ottawa third, Buffalo fourth, Syracuse fifth and Ft. Drum sixth.
The action-packed weekend was well-attended thanks in large part to corporate sponsorships which helped provide promotional support in the weeks leading up to the tournament.
On Saturday, March 4, teams and families were treated to a Prime Rib dinner hosted by the Edward C. Seymour VFW Post 1231 and cooked by Tim Hunt (Prime rib donated by HAC Tourney and Save-A-Lot). Thank you to the post’s Ladies’ Auxiliary for providing additional side dishes and volunteering as the wait staff for the dinner. Saturday’s dinner also featured guest motivational speaker, Dave Stevens. Dave is a VP at ESPN who was born without legs and shared his experiences playing able-bodied sports in high school before there were adaptive sports. (you can learn more about Dave at www.davesimpossibledream.com) We turned him into a sled hockey player.
The tournament’s success is also due in large part to the success of our silent auction and raffles. Throughout the weekend, spectators helped support the Mountain Warriors Sled Team by bidding on items generously donated by local businesses and individuals. Thank you to Triple “A” Building Center(cooler), USA Hockey, Mrs. Garman for the quilt, Jerry Valade for the sled coffee table, Zach Bogosian, Mike Erizone, and many others(NHL greats) for providing auction and raffle items. A special Thanks to Laurie Howlett and Shannon from Unique Inventions from Peterboro, Ont. For coming and fitting sleds and parts for the players especially Dave Stevens and ESPN for Buying Dave’s sled.
Through event sponsorships, donations, raffles and the silent auction, more than $11,300.00 was raised to support the Mountain Warriors Sled Hockey Team and Warrior Transition Unit. This year’s tournament proceeds will help support the team as they continue to compete in tournaments across the Northeast, as well as support injured soldiers transitioning home to help them pursue athletic competition; for which we are deeply grateful.
In the brief existence of this team, the lives of wounded soldiers and disabled athletes have been touched significantly. We are grateful to see awareness for the sport grow each year and hope we can continue to provide a great tournament to help enrich the lives of these amazing athletes for years to come. Starting up this team and keeping it alive for the last 6 years would not be possible anywhere but the North Country. On behalf of the Fort Drum Mountain Warriors, thank you to each and every individual, business, group, and community member who supported this event; we would not be where we are without you.
We hope you will join us for a game or two during next year’s tournament which will again be held the first weekend of March at SUNY Canton’s Roo’s House. Until then, you can follow the team on Facebook @mountainwarriorsledhockey as they continue to compete in the sport they love.
Mark J. McKenna
Head Coach, Fort Drum Mountain Warriors