Sled Hockey Player Receives Grant Award

Ice sled hockey is a sport which has been around since the 60’s when a group of Swedes decided their physical limitations shouldn’t affect their hockey game.  Modified sleds feature hockey skating blades to sit on, so that a player, armed with two sticks which have picks for maneuvering, can skate, scoot, shoot, and score in this exciting, fast-paced sport.

Lera Doederlein and    and Kevin Weekes

Lera Doederlein and  and Kevin Weekes

The Ice Den, at 9375 E. Bell Road in Scottsdale, is home to the Coyote’s sled ice skating team. In fact, one of the team’s members, Lera Doederlein, was featured recently on an NHL Network segment to talk about Hockey Is For Everyone. Doederlein, a 14-year-old double amputee and the youngest member of the team, was invited to speak on the show, and, to her surprise, was given a custom-made hockey sled and a $2000 grant from the Challenged Athletes Foundation. The award was presented by CAF’s co-founder, Bob Babbitt, The charity is based in San Diego-based and is committed to raising money to provide equipment and opportunities for those with physical challenges all over the world. Lera’s father said the grant would aid in the purchase of much-needed hockey equipment.

Sled hockey is an all-inclusive sport.

Sled hockey is an all-inclusive sport.

The NHL VP of Special Projects and Corporate Social Responsibility, Jessica Berman, was also on hand to explain how important it is for hockey to be an inclusive sport so that the only requirement to be a hockey player is a love of the game. 

Back in June, Doederlein elected to have a bilateral knee disarticulation surgery to correct a congenital disability called arthrogryposis, which had left her able to walk with braces but didn’t give her the mobility she wanted. In spite of her parents’ initial reluctance, having the operation gave Lera more mobility.

Following the surgery, she began to play sled hockey at the urging of one of her prosthetists and fell in love with the game. She had been using a loaner sled which was too big for her before being awarded the custom-made sled. Her eye is on the Paralympics, although at this point, she claims she’s ‘not very good’ at the sport. Her teammates, however,  are very encouraging, and we fully expect to see Lena make good on her dream since she’s only been playing for a few months. Lena likes to be out front, so she is a forward in spite of never having played hockey before.


Kevin Weekes, an NHL Network analyst and the host for Doederlein's tour of the network studio said he was surprised by her positive outlook on life. “You’re even more of a superstar than I thought,” he commented. During the presentation of the custom-made sled, a message for Lera was played. It was from her favorite hockey player, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who invited her to an Arizona Coyotes hockey game. 

We wish Lera well and will be watching her rise in skill with her new equipment and hope she enjoys a lifetime of love for the sport.

If you are looking for occupational or physical therapy, vestibular rehab, wheelchair training, learning to walk, unweighting, or other services in the Phoenix area, please call Touchstone Rehabilitation at 602-277-1073

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