The Golden Knights are inspiring more Las Vegas kids to lace up their skates and pick up a hockey stick.
Now there is a new youth sled hockey league for children with disabilities.
Vegas Golden Knights fans know him as the VGK "Wolverine." But now Jason Griego is taking on a new title as co-head coach for the youth sled hockey team.
“Our youth hockey program is growing,” he said. “But we wanted to reach out to our special needs, our handicap children so they have the same opportunity to step on the ice and fall in love just like the kids do.”
If the pros aren’t practicing at City National Arena, you might see a smaller pair of skates on the ice.
“You know, we can get them on the ice, we can get them in the sleds, some have bars they can push around,” Griego said.
The kids are part of a new program established through Jake Kielb’s Hockey Foundation. The program, along with the equipment, is partly sponsored by the Golden Knights Foundation and the community.
“We actually partnered with one of the largest fan groups on Facebook,” president of the Jake Kielb Hockey Foundation Gina Kielb said. “They raised enough money that we could purchase seven sleds to start the program.”
Both Lisa Chalmers and Francis McCabe have sons with disabilities who love to play sports.
“He deserves to be active just like any other kid,” Chalmers said. “He deserves to be treated just like any other kid.”
One of their favorite parts of practice is watching their kids score.
“I love the smile on his face when he scores goals,” McCabe said. “He's just skating around. He looks up and my wife and I are just so full of pride.”
These smiles are the same reason Golden Knights fan Jason Griego got involved as a head coach.
“As soon as they get on there, they start feeling that movement,” he said. “They dig those sticks into the ice the first time. That’s what means everything right there is to watch the smiles on their faces. Even if it's just for an hour, they come out and let that stress of life go away.”
The little Golden Knights fans are already building a bond with the Vegas Born team.
“For my son Francis, I know this is creating a lifetime fandom for him,” McCabe said. “I mean, he's set up to love the Golden Knights for life.”
The program is free. To get your child involved, visit hockeyforkids.org.