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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Starskaters

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Nonprofit Overview

Community Stories

49 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

StarSkaters Sled Hockey did so much for me and my family. I started as the father of a disabled son who had an interest in hockey and we quickly became a regular and volunteer as well. When we started out by coming to the ice rink on Saturday, we barely missed another Saturday for a couple of years. We handled equipment, we put together a system and helped build the equipment storage room and it was a full 2 years of activity, travel and fun for all involved. Jim and Lilia made us a part of a family and it became a social life for our entire family. The level of experience, competition and activities were always the best and although we have moved on from that time, it remains as one of the best times in our lives. My son has really grown through the years and so much of that is thanks to StarSkaters Hockey and Jim. They help so many and even with the team getting better and better and growing on the ice, there was always an open door for anyone with disabilities wanting to try ice hockey or even ice skate. This organization gives to a huge community and it is ever expanding. We would have regulars driving over every Saturday from Beaumont/Port Arthur Victoria and many other communities because of what Star Skaters offered, free of charge and we were honored to have been a part of it. And truly hope that our health and time improves to the point that we could once again, get involved.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The smiles on the faces of the kids, parents and instructors say it all. Kids who never thought they could skate are now flying on the ice thanks to STARskaters. Every rink in America should have a program like this.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have been fortunate enough to have seen, with my own eyes, the miracles StarSkaters does.

On a recent trip to Texas, I went to see what skate therapy was all about. I had already visited with the sled hockey program on a couple prior visits. I knew how amazing that was and wanted to check out this side of the organization.

I saw a lot of young people with various mental and physical disabilities having the time of their lives. It really filled my heart.

I also saw something that was nothing short of a miracle. There was one young boy that seemed to be in his own world. He was sitting, looking down and flapping his ears with his hands. He didn't seem to connect at all with the world around him. One of the volunteers approached him and gently spoke with him and led him out to the circle of other young people preparing to do the pre-skating exercises. In no time at all, he was a part of the group and participating with the others. To see that transformation done in a matter of moments was truly amazing.

StarSkaters has some of the most wonderful volunteers that work so well with the participants that it touches your heart and soul. Thank you, StarSkaters!

2 Gary L.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a person who volunteers for this organization, I can say firsthand, the huge difference this organization makes for so many people. Lifechanging is almost too little to say how this has made a positive effect on so many lives and the lives of the participants' families. Kudos again and again for this wonderful non-profit organization.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

StarSkaters is a fabulous organization that makes a huge difference for so many people. All of the selfless volunteers work hard to provide a safe environment on the ice for people who would not otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy this experience. The smiles on the faces of the skaters say volumes about this work. And, this organization has extended its work to provide support for a sled hockey team that has become a national rated team. Kudos to Jim O'Neill and this wonderful organization.

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2

Client Served

Rating: 5

STARskaters is full of amazing people, who share the passion of loving to be on the ice! Not only that, they brought back a part of my life that I thought I would never get back: getting to skate on the ice again. I have autoimmune nerve disease, but thanks to them, I get to skate and play sled hockey with some of the coolest people ever! I look forward to coming every single Saturday to play sled hockey!

Jeanne44

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

StarSkaters is literally a life-changing program. The volunteers are awesome. Between the sled hockey and the skate therapy program, there is something for everyone.
Thank you for offering this fantastic program.

3 Mike N.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Starskaters has been a blessing. We first learned about them at an Disability Expo. My son was a hockey fan and had always dreamed about playing other sports after serving as trainer for the varsity football team his 4 years in Highschool, but actually being a completing player, he only thought it would be a dream of his never a reality. He had tried some of the wheelchair basketball but he just didnt have the ability to shoot the ball and he struggled too much, in addition to the fact that it wasnt his true love, hockey.

From the 1st day we were there, they set him up in a sled and in no time, he got the opportunity of a lifetime, he got to travel to PA to participate in the National Sled Hockey tournament. In fact, his first true competitive game he ever played was the first roud of the tournament. SO his beginning experience kind of hooked him. We have rarely missed a Saturday ever since that Saturday in August of 2012. In fact, my wife and I have committed our Saturdays that we dont have to work as being volunteers, including the tournament trips where we are needed. For as long as Andy is part of the team, we will be the most committed and tried and true volunteers they have, as far as our help goes, but they have so many others that commit to this great cause simply because it is such a great cause, and a great group of people doing such a wonderful thing. Most everyone that starts to be involved with starskaters quickly becomaes a member of our Hockey family and that is what we are a family. So we continue to invite people to come out on Saturday and try it. It is always free and you will probably be like us, and become hooked. We have been away for the last 3 weeks due to being sick and the holidays and it is just killing us. We gotta get back so meet us there next Saturday, at Memorial City Mall at 10 am. Houston TX Be there

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

We learned of this great group last August at the Accessibility Expo and our Son who was born with Spina Bifida has really grown in so many areas, thanks to Star Skaters. He has always loved hockey and been a huge fan. Star Skaters has given him the opportunity to participate in the sports he loves so much. My wife has volunteered each Saturday since and as soon as I was physically able, I have been helping as well.

This organization and the people behind it care so much for the people who need these services. They go the extra mile in helping the guys and gals with anything from ingenious equipment modifications to ice time and other needs.

Just talking to the skaters and players, they say that they feel an incredible amount of freedom on the ice, and that makes it all worth while.

Special thanks to Jim O'Neil and Ken Belknap and so many others that give so much. I receive so much more than I give to this group and you will too should you decide to become involved.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son LOVES Star Skaters and ALL the people who are there on Saturday mornings. Some activities he must be strongly encouraged to participate in........no this. He plans his Saturday around sled hockey to be sure he does not miss a minute of his time with his friends and on the ice. The leaders, volunteers and parents are exceptional people...........all of them! It is wonderful to have a happy child.

3 Marc17

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Starskaters is about enabling. Starskaters creates an environment where disabilities disappear and accomplishments happen. Advancement to the highest level of Olympic achievement is a reality that has been attained. Starskaters is life changing and deserves 100% support.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This charity is absolutely wonderful! It gives people with disabilities the opportunity to interact and exercise.

The participants in both the StarSkaters sled hockey and StarSkaters skate therapy program seem to really look forward to the weekend so that they can enjoy all these programs have to offer.

I have had the opportunity to try out the sled hockey and meet some of the skaters and the volunteers. Both are truly dedicated to keeping this priceless opportunity available to all. It seems to be a very important part of all of their lives.

Thank you for all that you do!

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering for over a year and can't say enough about how awesome this program is for anyone with a disability. If you think you can't skate...they will likely prove you wrong. It's the best way to start a Saturday morning...seeing the smiles of everyone from the skaters, to the parents, as well as the volunteers. I would give it TEN stars if I could!!!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Incredible program serving kids with special needs. Highly rewarding for both the kids and the volunteers.

3 David263

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I can tell u the first time I volunteered I was instantly hooked. It's been 3 years now since the first time I stepped on the ice to help. I enjoy seeing people from all walks of life persevere. This group and it's founders really have impacted me personally. I only wish this event happened more than once a week!

2 Jennifer392

Client Served

Rating: 5

My son just started the sled hockey program and he loves it. All the volunteers are kind and helpful and they provide all the equipment!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I cannot say enough great things about StarSkaters. My son is taking part in the Sled Hockey program and he absolutely loves it. The program provides him with the opportunity to excel in a sport despite his physical limitations. It also allows him the chance to socialize with other individuals who are living with similar challenges and to learn from them. If you stop by the rink on a Saturday morning, you will see all of the smiles, hear the laughter, and then you will truly know what a difference StarSkaters Sled Hockey program makes in the lives of the players and their families.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our son LOVES Starskaters. He likes to participate in sports like his brother and sister, likes to be active, loves meeting and seeing his numerous friends he has made through Starskaters. With many activities he has to be nudged.....Not this ! Going to the rink on Saturday mornings is one of the highlights of his week! Jim O'Neill, Reid, and the other volunteers are exceptional people!

Tom's family

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As an adult volunteer, I have never witnessed such dedication and focus from the skaters and on ice instructors as I have seen here. A great family atmosphere, smiling faces and excitement from all involved, the best way to spend a Saturday morning by being there to help where I can.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We came across the Star Skaters sled hockey team from someone whom is currently participating. This is the greatest thing since sliced bread. My son has been participating for about 6 weeks now and cannot get enough. I highly recommend anyone interested to try it at least once and you will be hooked. I also want to thank Jim O'neill, the coaches and all of the volunteers in Houston for making this a wonderful experience.

1 27Kim

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization has so much to offer..from sled hockey to skate therapy. Our sled hockey program has had one of its players to make the USA Sled Hockey Team! And on the skate therapy side, one of the volunteers has invented a device so that skaters with no sight would be able to skate. Speaking of inventions, on our sled hockey side, a volunteer there also invented an arm attachment for a player with one arm. So now, he can use two arms to fly down the ice. We have outstanding volunteers working with outstanding participants to help grow StarSkaters.

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3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After volunteering with StarSkaters, I can say that helping this organization has been the best experience...life changing. They are such a great bunch of people to see and be around. Their great attitudes and outlook on life is contagious. You smile at the start, middle and end of the day of volunteering with StarSkaters. We went to a tournament with the sled hockey team. We knew we couldn't stay the whole tournament but when it was time to go, we couldn't. We kept prolonging the departure because it was so hard to leave the team. Seeing them playing, giving everything they have as a team and achieving so much was such a joy ! I nominate this organization and I have recommended this organization.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

The growth of STARskaters Sled Hockey and SkateTherapy programs speaks volumes for the benefits provided to not only the families and skaters, but to the volunteers as well.

None of this would be possible without the generous donation of time and talents of our volunteer instructors, equipment wranglers, "pit crew", mechanics and inventors who have developed some incredible adaptive devices to benefit both programs.

I'm also thankful for the many friendships that have been developed with everyone involved. The programs have really developed a "family" feel. Thanks to all for creating and spreading the magic of STARskaters!

Jim O'Neill

mariblair

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm so excited that the Austin Blades Sled Hockey team, a chapter of the Star Skaters has let my 9 year son join their team. I'm putting together a big fundraiser and I hope it will be a great turn out! I will post the details once everything is finalized. Glad to be a part of this organization!!!

Mary115

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Congratulations to the StarSkaters Sled hockey team on winning the Silver in Boston. All of your hard work paid off. I hope your success encourages others to try out the sleds and learn what great fun sledding is.

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3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The joy and confidence this program brings to the participants is beyond measure. I have the privilege of joining them once or twice a year, and am ever amazed at their abilities on ice. A sled hockey participant, who is usually in a wheelchair, said " it's like flying". The volunteers, and the organizer of STARskaters are all exceptional people offering an exceptional experience to those with disabilities. I'm humbled by their efforts and it's a privilege to know them.

Donor

Rating: 5

I had the pleasure of joining Starskaters on a recent trip to Houston. They are an amazing bunch! The participants and volunteers are all fantastic, inspiring people. I got to hop on a sled and experience this awesome sport. It is wonderful how it affects all of their lives. I only wish they offered this program here in Minneapolis! Thank you to all that make Starskaters happen.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was introduced to StarSkaters by Jim O'Neill, our Thursday night referee. Jim hosted an annual 3 on 3 Tournament to help raise money for the StarSkaters non-profit group. Learning more about the organization, I became hooked. They are wonderful organization that does so much for the community. They make a huge difference in people lives. Not only do they help the kids, but the parents as well. As a part-time volunteer to this organization, I'm grateful to be part of such a great group of selfless volunteers. It is a life changing experience.

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2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was invited by Jim O'Neill to volunteer and participate in the StarSkaters program when I first moved to Houston in 2008. It's been a wonderful experience to meet such caring and giving people, moreover, the StarSkaters participants are the most special people you will ever meet. They make my day.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've been participating in sled hockey for 2 years now and I can honestly say that's its been greatest 2 years of my life. Star skaters gave me the opportunity to get on the ice and play hockey; something I never thought I could do. I would encourage anyone with a disability to check them out and any body who doesn't have a disability to come out and watch us work!! It's truly amazing. Through this organization I've gotten the opportunity to travel as well. Just recently we went to sled hockey nationals in Philadelphia. One our group members was even asked to join the USA sled hockey developmental team.

Kathleen41

Donor

Rating: 5

The volunteers in this organization are dedicated, patient and professional. The outcome of the program has far exceeded any expectation! Keep up the great work STAR Skaters!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My 8 year old child has been progressing and enjoys being a student at STARskaters. This is an amazing program that deserves our respect and support. Parent: I. Sampson

1

Advisor

Rating: 5

Ice Skate USA has been very fortunate to host the S.T.A.R skaters for the past year. We have seen the program grow though efforts of countless volunteers and participants. What started as a small venture has grown into a prosperous program offering the sport of sled hockey to numerous players. Jim O’Neil has spent countless hours organizing the program and his efforts show every Saturday as we introduce the sport to new members. Additionally, we continue to support our existing players, the culmination of everyone’s efforts was a bronze medal finish in their first ever USA Hockey Disabled Festival held in Dallas, TX. Ice Skate USA proudly supports our program and the continued advancement of the sport.

Carl Sasyn
General Manager
Ice Skate USA

STARskaters

Client Served

Rating: 5

We went to one of your events. My son has CP and loves hockey. He always wanted to play and would be down because he couldn't. He got to play hockey for his first time at your event. It was a dream come true for him and we really appreciate you guys for taking the time to put it together. We also me other people there and learned of events that we had been missing and learned about a wheelchair basketball team which is now on. It is a great place for younger kids with disabilities to see disabled adults that are living a normal life. It was great and we can not thank you enough.

3 Amelia Melie S.

Client Served

Rating: 5

StarSkaters has given my son the opportunity of a lifetime - to play the game he loves and dreamed of playing- ice hockey! eventhough we knew he couldn't skate, we tried anyway, but to his disappointment, he can't stand on skates. Then one day I received an email asking if he might like to try this new sport. Are you kidding?! YES! His dream has come true, my prayers have been answered. He participates in sled hockey every Saturday morning at Memorial City Mall Ice rink. He lives for this game!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My daughter participates as a skater with STARskaters every weekend, something that she and I both look forward to. STARskaters provides one-on-one instruction for every skater. I appreciate all the hard work the volunteers put into this organization. As a parent, I truly believe STARskaters has helped my daughter grow and make new friends, and I encourage others to support this wonderful organization.

2 Ice lover

Client Served

Rating: 5

I got polio when I was two back home in Africa. I have been living in Houston for 12 yrs and a year ago I came accross with flyer about the sled hockey. I decided to go check it out and I was sold: I loved it! Cruising the ice is a such great feeling, I can do things that I would never be able to do with my crutches! God bless Jim for this great idea, this is the first sport I ever really practiced, I wish I knew about it earlier. So I enjoy it very much but what made me stuck around is the Staff and volonteers attitude: THEY ARE OUTSTANDING! They made me felt home just the first day, and since then I am just amazed how committed they are to do all the heavy lifting ( Literally) so that we can enjoy the ice and have fun. They do it with a big smile, they have a great sens of humor so I alway looking forward to our saturday pratice. I think we just have the best staff and volunteers in the hockey world, period. Thanks guys, you rock!

1 Lilia O.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

StarSkaters where everyone is a star.
* From a parent that makes time for their child with disabilities.

* To a player that finds joy on being on the ice, feeling free, & their determination of making a man's dream come true. Because he cared.

*Volunteer's that take time from their busy schedule to help.

* Jim O'Neill founder of StarSkaters his act of kindness has changed lives in a positive way.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteer, Kim Belknap, introduced me to this awesome organizaion and I've been hooked every since. It's a great feeling going out and helping and watching all those who get on a sled, have a fun time on the ice. I hurt my shoulder back in April and have not been able to go help; it's killing me having to be away for such a long. I can't wait until I'm released from the Doc to start going back. My Saturday mornings are just not the same. I look forward to being out there and seeing the smiles and hearing the laughs. And I love when there's an extra sled for me to get in and get out there with them. This organization and all of the people involved make you realize to live every moment to the fullest. Seeing some of the kids and hearing their stories has really touched my life and made me put my own problems into perspective. Keep on being the great people that you are, and can't wait to see y'all again (hopefully, very soon)!!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

STARskaters is a excellent program for people with specail needs. Everyone works with a passion here.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

STARskaters is one of the few organizations that is run solely on passion. From top to bottom, this is a foundation that relies on enthusiasm and selfless effort to provide unique experiences for those with disabilities. It's not just the people working within the organization, but also the ice-rinks and program directors who accomodate the inventory to provide a consistent time-slot for these experiences to take place.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program is so beneficial to kids with special needs like my daughter. We as the parents are very grateful for the great efforts of the organization and so many volunteers who are so devoted and willing to help. This is the best!

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program is wonderful and helps my son to build his confidence. He enjoys every time and we all so looking forward to every Saturday.

4 JONeill

Board Member

Rating: 5

This program has grown from initially providing events for organizations with disabilities to more than 125 Skate Therapy and Sled Hockey events each year. Not only to the participants and their families benefit, but also the volunteers themselves. Due to their positive experiences, several of the high school age instructors have gone on to pursue medical, social work and therapeutic studies.

4 WillyG

Volunteer

Rating: 5

StarSkaters provides children and adults with special needs with the an opportunity to socialize, exercise, build confidence and compete on ice. Whether its sled hockey or just skating, this program enables people to participate in an environment that fosters self esteem, confidence and a passion for competition. Sled Hockey, which is ice hockey's equivalent of wheel chair basketball, is a growing sport that is both fun and highly competitive for those who seek to challenge themselves. This Houston organization is totally volunteer based and driven by individuals who seek to give back to the community. Skaters look forward to each week's activities with excitement and enthusiasm as it quickly becomes a source of new dreams and aspirations for many, demonstrating that there are no boundaries for those who are willing to challenge themselves. As a volunteer, this program uniquely gives back to all who are involved with a unique sense of fulfillment in knowing that we all can make a positive difference in other people's lives. Houston, TX is giving back thanks to founder, Jim O'Neill and all that he has done to make this dream a reality.

3 Lucy10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This program is incredible parents are watching their children overcome incredible challenges and succeed on the ice, earning badges to mark each milestone met. Our volunteers are amazing, sharing their skills talent and time with love and real caring.both portions of this program, Starskaters sled hockey and Skatetherapy are having a positive impact on lives in Houston.

3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

It is with great anticipation I greet 23-25 Special Needs students to the SkateTherapy.org, part of STARskaters classes. Each student works toward proficiency through a special badge program, developed by U. S. Figure Skating. There is an opportunity to set goals, reach them, and then reset, as they successfully learn the necessary skills for each badge. 37 dedicated, educated and enthusiastic instructors patiently guide children dealing with various levels of Autism, chromosome issues, Cerebral Palsy, Downs Syndrome, Cri du Chat, ADHD and other assorted challenges. This successful program, which has been developed by U. S. Figure Skating, follows, and is loved by the skaters and their parents. Safety is a key component of this program, along with the enjoyment of learning a sport many would consider impossible.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Starskaters does an amazing job providing an on ice skating experience for therapy and recreation for children and young adults with any type of physical or developmental disability. The program is open to anyone five years of age or older who would normally be unable to enjoy an on-ice skating experience due to their disability. I'm proud to be involved with such great folks. It's very rewarding to see the difference the on ice experience makes in the lives of all involved. Thanks for letting me be a part of it.