Acts of kindness. Jason LaBarbera and Phoenix Coyotes help kids with needs.

 Sidelines are as close as it gets for most kids in wheelchairs

Recently I came across something I felt needed some awareness. See this is a story about kids with special needs. The ones that don’t get picked last for games. They don’t get picked at all. Most of the times they watch and dream from the sidelines. This is a story that may have just been meant to be a picture for a family. Luckily I happened to be Facebook friends with their friend Nicole Oliver.

First let me introduce you to Cassandra Byrd. She is a stay at home mom who left her good paying job at American Express to care full-time for 5-yr old twins who have SMA type 2.  SMA stands for Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and is among the 43 recognized Muscular Dystrophies. What this disease does to children is tragic. And it’s more common than you might think–1 in 40 people worldwide carry the gene, and SMA is the number one genetic killer of babies under two years old. Thanks to SMA, the twins will never crawl and will never walk unless a ground-breaking cure can be found, and soon. Instead, they drive very expensive, shiny wheelchairs around.

Cassandra serves on the board for the Arizona chapter of Families of SMA and was a founding member of the Neuroscience Institute Family Advisory Council of Phoenix Children’s Hospital. When you talk about heroes, teachers and stay at home moms should always be in the discussion. Teachers who get their kids to safety in horrible events and moms who give their lives to kids who have almost no ability to get around are definitely worthy of our mention. Sports figures get the label too often for doing very little. In this story I think everyone involved were better after.

Nicole Olivier shared the following while at an informal skate for Phoenix Coyotes staying sharp during the Lockout.

“Mom and son went by the benches. Shane Doan saw them, came behind the benches towards them. Doan and a boy spoke a bit, then he walked over with them to an area where they could open the boards. Both Doan and Labarbera helped each other get the boards open and helped the little boy onto the ice. Then the act of kindness of two hockey players took place. Doan bowed down to his knees and helped the boy with his stick to get the puck in the net. Barbs helped out too by pretending to stop the goal. Soon the boy’s disabled twin sister and older skating sister joined them. It was a beautiful moment. So happy to be able to watch most of it. Acts of kindness I love so much.”

Jason Labarbera and his wife bent over backwards to give Cassandra and her trio of kids a lot to be happy about this Holiday season.  The Ryan house put the family up and accommodated them for the weekend. Also the Ice Den was more then helpful to make all of this happen as well. Crazy the good things that can happen when good people come together. Even the bad guy Raffi Torres shows that no matter the negative stigma that surrounded him after a controversial hit, (one that I myself thought was clean, just unatural how the Blackhawk went the opposite way) he is as kind and giving of his time than any.

So next time you think about athletes poppin’ bottles, out in the strip club, pulling out guns….Well just know that’s the NBA. Think about the good that Coyotes do on a daily basis. Many things you would never know unless a series of events led you here. The Phoenix Coyotes help in their community. They have charities that do 50/50 raffle at every game. Ryan House is one of those charities that make most of these things possible.Sometimes it’s not all about the money. This was truly an act of kindness. In this moment it was just about a little effort, some time, and lots of smiles.

On this day these brave little angels took their mini zambonis onto the ice and played.  We all had to sit and watch as they had fun. My favorite role reversal.

I love seeing things like this. At the Suns game one night all front row seats were given to members of our Armed Forces.  So many good organizations bringing light to the lives of some who have so much darkness. Of course if you see these kids you would see so much joy in their faces. Makes you really think our worries are pretty ridiculous. So call it a feel good story. Happy Holidays. Hug your children.

Congrats to the Byrd family.


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Tags: Cassandra Byrd Coyotes Jason LaBarbera Raffi Torres Shane Doan Spinal Muscular Atrophy

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