Gates Mills, Ohio – Senior defensemen and Gilmour Academy Prep Hockey
co-captain Vincent Stafford ’22
has partnered with U.S.A. Hockey
to establish funds for the availability of sled hockey and adaptive skating programming at Gilmour Academy
’s Floyd E. Stefanski Ice Center. This new program is designed to provide state-of-the-art adaptive sports equipment and dedicated ice time throughout the year for children and young adults who have mobility challenges.
The initial program will commence on July 24, from noon-2 p.m., when young athletes from Youth Challenge
will play adaptive sled hockey and adaptive sled skating at Gilmour’s Academy’s ice arena (2045 SOM Center Road, Gates Mills, Ohio 44040). In addition to the sled hockey and skating, the event will include food and beverages as well as giveaways. Members of the Gilmour Academy hockey program will help staff the event.
“I am excited to raise money and awareness to acquire new sled hockey equipment, to establish a mobility skating program for the community, and to share my passion for hockey with these young athletes,” said Stafford. “Sled hockey is an amazing sport and activity, and my goal is to establish a long-term program at Gilmour Academy for the community to be able to utilize the new equipment and to have ice time.”
Through sponsorships, Stafford has already secured the $15,000 necessary to fund the ice sleds, protective equipment, programming and ice time. The initial goals are to provide the equipment and ice time while building community awareness.
Asked about Stafford’s initiative, Gilmour’s Head of School Kathy Kenny said, "I am so proud of the way Vince has taken our mission to heart. He continues to seek ways to use his passion for hockey for the good of others.” She added, “Earlier this year, he raised money for Rainbow Babies and he has now created this opportunity for disabled teens to play hockey. He is a leader on both his hockey team and in our school community and serves as a great example of 'having the competence to see and the courage to act,' just as our Holy Cross mission calls us."
The Youth Challenge organization provides adapted sports and recreational activities for young people with disabilities and is excited about this new program.
“We are super excited about this opportunity that Vincent Stafford is providing for us and our crew,” said Chris Garr, chief executive officer of Youth Challenge. “Our athletes are excited to participate in sled hockey and to be part of this valuable program.”
Stafford, a senior prep hockey player and leading defensive scorer for the team, has been the first player in Gilmour’s history to have played at every level in the school’s hockey program. He began in Gilmour’s Mite Hockey program and has risen through the ranks, playing on the program’s top team, the U-18 AAA Prep team, this past year.
Gilmour’s nationally ranked Prep team is comprised of players from around the United States and Canada and as far as Russia. Stafford has been selected as a co-captain of the Prep team for the 2021-2022 season.
Despite the demands of playing hockey at this level, Stafford maintains a straight A average and is a member of the school’s National Honor Society.
“Vince Stafford is a leader in every capacity,” said the Prep team’s coach, Mike Chiellino. “He is always seeking new and innovative ways to help others and establish programs that provide incredible value. We are excited for sled hockey and to have it be part of Gilmour Academy now and in the future.”
USA Hockey is providing the sleds for this inaugural program through its “One
Kid . . .One Sled . . .One Shot. . .A Hockey Player for Life! Program” and Stafford, through raising funds, will provide the necessary resources to purchase sleds permanently housed at Gilmour Academy. It is Stafford’s goal to also provide enough funding to purchase ice time to allow these athletes and community groups to really immerse in the game.
“I am grateful that this program has the potential to have a permanent home at Gilmour Academy,” said J.J. O’Connor, chair of USA Hockey’s Disabled Program. “This type of expansion and exposure will show people the significance of the sport and the disabled athletes, who have overcome adversities, that they are hockey players just like everybody else.”
About Gilmour Academy Prep Hockey
The Gilmour Academy Prep Hockey program is a U18 AAA team, that has a long-standing tradition of its student-athletes continuing to play in the highest level of hockey, including the
NHL and NCAA. Gilmour Academy Prep Hockey has developed a national reputation of advancing its student-athletes to the most competitive hockey programs and rigorous academic colleges, as well as junior hockey placement.
About Gilmour Academy
Gilmour Academy is a Catholic, independent, coeducational, college-preparatory school. It is sponsored by the Congregation of Holy Cross, Notre Dame, Ind., and offers a Montessori preschool program beginning at 18-months-old and traditional Grades K-12. A boarding program is offered to students in Grades 9 through 12. It is located at 34001 Cedar Road in Gates Mills, Ohio. For more information about Gilmour Academy, visit www.gilmour.org
and follow Gilmour on Facebook
About Youth Challenge
Since 1976, Youth Challenge (YC) has provided grassroots adaptive recreation to children and young adults with physical disabilities throughout Greater Cleveland. The best way to adapt sport and make it accessible to everyone is by making real human connections. YC’s hundreds of teen volunteers provide this unique access to sport and social growth. YC is proud to serve as a leader in introducing athletic opportunities to people of all abilities and sharing its love for hockey and countless other adaptive sports. With offices in Westlake and Shaker Heights and program locations throughout Northeast Ohio, YC offers hundreds of opportunities in the arts and athletics and provides accessible transportation. All YC programs and transportation are offered free of charge to participants.
About USA Hockey
Based in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA Hockey provides the foundation for the sport of ice hockey in America; helps young people become leaders, even Olympic heroes; and connects the game at every level while promoting a lifelong love of the sport.
USA Hockey’s primary emphasis is on the support and development of grassroots hockey programs. Its cutting-edge American Development Model, which was launched in January 2009, provides associations nationwide with a blueprint for age-appropriate athlete development. While youth hockey is a main focus, USA Hockey also has vibrant junior and adult hockey programs that provide opportunities for players of all ability levels. The organization also supports a growing disabled hockey program.
As the National Governing Body for the sport of ice hockey in the United States, USA Hockey is the official representative to the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the International Ice Hockey Federation. In this role, USA Hockey is responsible for organizing and training men’s and women’s teams for international tournaments, including the IIHF World Championships and the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. USA Hockey also works closely with the National Hockey League and the National Collegiate Athletic Association on matters of mutual interest.