If I hadn’t met the families and administrators of ASHA, I’d have thought it all sounded too good to be true.
Both in casual conversations spanning many years, and during interviews for a freelance article a few years ago, I’ve had the honor of getting to know the folks who run ASHA and those who participate as players and volunteers. Forgive the cliché, but this program truly embodies doing the Lord’s work. It benefits the players by teaching teamwork, structure, and inclusiveness. It gives them opportunities to earn all sorts of victories -- very few of them measured on a scoreboard. And as the players themselves put it, the program is fun.
For the parents, ASHA is invaluable. The ones I’ve met all described the program glowingly. They said it has been life-changing for their kids. Most also said ASHA offers an unrivaled and unparalleled experience both for them and for the players.
As for those running the program, there aren’t enough superlatives to properly credit them.
ASHA is the Stanley Cup champion of nonprofits!
When I look at my son, I have a very difficult time believing he is now 27. Time goes by so very fast. George is a man. He is strong and handsome. He is full of life. He looks so very normal. When George plays hockey with American Special Hockey Association, I almost forget he is autistic. There are other times I feel as if my head were in a tightening vice. Sometime George makes loud unintelligible noises. There are times George has total and complete melt downs. Sometime my son covers his eyes and hears. Sometime he hits himself. It's one thing when it takes place at home. It's something different when it takes place in a crowded mall or restaurant. I see the fear on the faces of strangers. I can't blame them. George and I have been a team from the very beginning. I still don't fully understand autism.
George has angels. Amazing people enter his life at precisely the right time. Angels resist the human impulse to stare. Angles don’t run the other way. Angels have helped George in both large and small ways. George's angels have taken the form of teachers, bus drivers, neighbors and coaches. The fact George has angels is a source of great comfort. Mike Hickey and American Special Hockey Association are angels. Mike Hickey and American Special Hockey Association have made a difference in George’s life.
George Stone JR