Wounded Veterans Swap Wheelchairs For Hockey Sleds

OLD BRIDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Veterans from the Bronx VA traveled to Old Bridge, New Jersey on Wednesday, trading in their wheelchairs for hockey sleds.

It was something they all told CBS2’s Meg Baker they thought they could never do.

“Hockey, you know, for somebody who’s in a wheelchair, hockey is kind of far out there, you know what I mean?” Vietnam veteran Robert Young said.

Young said he enjoyed the sense of the camaraderie with volunteers at the Operation Beachhead winter event for veterans and other adults with special needs.

“You seem like you might get competitive out there,” Baker said.

“Oh yeah, oh yeah, we don’t play,” Young said.

Beth Kelly was born with spina bifida and is a full-time wheelchair user, but she said she loves being out on the ice.

“It’s exhilarating,” she said.

Others with multiple sclerosis had saved their energy so they could take part.

“It’s difficult for me to get everything ready just to get out of the house to drive here,” Renee LaChapelle, of Monmouth County, said. “I can do ice hockey, because I get a significant amount of help from the volunteers with Operation Beachhead. Otherwise, this is also something I would never is go out on ice, because mobility issues.”

A dozen civilian and active duty officers volunteered their time to lift sleds, skate and have a ton of fun.

“We feel great. It’s an opportunity, especially with the disabled veterans, everybody’s always looking for an opportunity to give back,” event organizer Rich Smith said.

“It’s our honor to do this for veterans that defend us and supported our country,” Tom Badock, of Old Bridge, said.

Despite the difficulty of their circumstances, the crowd came to play and lift spirits.

All of the modified sleds were donated by local sled skating teams.

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