LAUREL, Md. - For youth hockey teams, one of the biggest hurdles is simply getting time on the ice. One hockey coach hit the road on rollerblades to insure his players will have place to play this season.
Mark Carter decided to ring in his 60th birthday with a little skate up the road. He rollerbladed from Huntingtown, Maryland in Calvert County and finished his trip seven hours later at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel while fighting off fatigue and Maryland traffic.
“You always have to have a purpose because there is always a bad time in every endurance event,” he said. “But if you have that juice and a purpose, that is what gets you through. There is way too much here. I would have to die. They would have to hit me, they would have to kill me to not finish this one.”
He dodged drivers and pushed through pain for the Washington Ice Dogs, a hockey team for athletes with special needs.
“It's giving them a sense of community,” Carter said. “We go to several tournaments every year. We could go to a tournament and just be themselves, let their guard down and just act however they want to act and don't feel judged.”
He got involved with the Ice Dogs after his son, Garrett, was in a car accident that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. Garrett had to relearn the simplest of life's tasks.
“Hockey was everything,” said Carter. “It became a big part of our family and we didn't think he would ever do that.”
But these kids can’t play if they don’t have time on the ice. Carter skated almost 45 miles to help pay for that time at the rink.
“It is easy to make fun of the disabled,” the hockey coach said. “We see it all the time and I hope that they can see how they have all the hopes, dreams, desires of everyone else.”
“We have kids who come in here when they are non-verbal – don’t speak, can’t say a word – but slowly as they progress, they start to talk and then they have hockey friends and they have parties with their hockey friends’ houses,” said Michael Hiney, the founder of the Washington Ice Dogs. “It's great to see.”
Carter gave a championship effort for his players and after nearly 45 miles on skates, he celebrated like a champion.
Carter has risen over $1,700 so far and has a final goal of $10,000. If you would like to donate to his cause, click here.