Young hockey fans with special needs share the ice with Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — After the Flyers finished practice in Voorhees on Monday, special guests joined them on the ice: the Flyers Youth Special Hockey team.

“We are a team of individuals that are developmentally disabled or delayed, kids with autism or other special needs, learning disabilities,” explained Erica Hunter, who directs the team

They all share a passion for the game — and, of course, the Flyers.

Needless to say, they were overwhelmed with joy to be able to skate around with the team, practice some drills and get some advice. Gritty made a surprise appearance, too.

“Before I came out I was nervous, but I got out there and took a deep breath and I wasn’t nervous anymore,” said 19-year-old player Christian Higgs. “It was amazing. It was my dream, and I’m so glad I got to do it.”

Parents like Christopher Carlson stood on the sidelines with mutual elation.

“I have such a smile on my face,” he said, watching his 18-year-old son, Eric. “When he found out about this, it’s all he could talk about, meeting these players and getting to skate. He just loves to play.”

Other parents like Jim Maenner looked on with delight at his 20-year-old son, Timmy, who is a student at the Overbrook School For Blind.

“It’s extra special to see the real players out here,” he said. “For them to take the time for him, he does understand and appreciate that. As a parent, we just think it’s amazing.”