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Three Caps Skate With Dreams For Kids
Photos by Alena Schwarz
Amidst all the turmoil and questions of the season, three players received a break from the chaos Friday afternoon when they chose to donate their time to children with physical and mental disabilities as part of an Extreme Recess Hockey Clinic.
The clinic, held after practice, featured forward Jason Chimera, goaltender Braden Holtby and defenseman Tomas Kundratek. The players spent time with children who are in the youth organization Dreams for Kids.
Dreams for Kids paired each child with a volunteer, and the children were able to skate on the ice through sleds, on skates, and met the players, some of them even partaking in small skating and shooting drills with foam pucks.
Kundratek said the program provided him and his teammates with a nice break from their day-to-day preparations, and gave them some time to relax and have fun.
“It was great, it was so much fun,” he said. “All the kids were great, I had a great time and it’s awesome to see them and see them leave with a smile on their face.”
There were roughly 100 children who participated in the session, along with their family members, and attended practice to watch the Caps prepare for Saturday’s against the Florida Panthers.
Holtby agreed with his teammate and said he was very appreciative of the time he spent with the children and their families.
“Anything like this can help, it puts things in perspective, and you see how these kids can really appreciate the little things in life,” he said.
Both Holtby and Kundratek emphasized how much fun they had with the children, and how they could see the happiness come through when the kids were on the ice.
“From my eyes, there’s so many good things in this world and I am so thankful to have this experience,” Kundratek said. “It was great, I was really happy doing this.”
Holtby said coming into the event he wasn’t sure what to anticipate, but he is glad he took part in the clinic, a tradition that’s been put on for the past three years.
“I had no idea what to expect, but to come out here and see the turnout and see all the kids it was just a great experience,” he said.
The father of an 8-month-old, Holtby said because he’s a father, he was able to relate to some of the parents who were out on the ice with their children.
This break and relaxation time for the players means a lot to them, Holtby said, and he hopes he can keep doing things like this in the future.
“We’re just out here trying to make their day, but what they don’t know is that they make our day that much brighter,” he said.
— Story by Jonathan Munshaw