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Blind Children Experience the Thrill of the Ice at Kennedy Recreation Center

Trenton High School hockey players helped blind children from around Downriver experience ice skating at Kennedy Recreation Center Monday.

Elijah squealed with joy as he cut though the crisp, cold air, while Trenton hockey player Michael Lesko pushed him at high speeds along the ice.

hockey players pushed seated Downriver visually impaired students around an ice rink at on Monday.

The event is called Skate with the Blind and has been an annual tradition in the City of Trenton for nearly 50 years.

More than 20 visually impaired students attending Lincoln Park Public Schools participated in the event. Each student is paired up with a Trenton hockey player or a member of the Trenton Interact Club.

The students are then gently strapped into a chair and safely whisked along the ice. Hockey players help the students play games as they glide across the frozen floor.

Five-year-old Elijah said his favorite part of the day was making snowballs and throwing them at his sister.

Though the actual year the City of Trenton and Trenton Public Schools became involved was a mystery to many of the people participating in the event, volunteer Carol Mans said she thinks the annual event has been around for nearly 50 years.

Trenton hockey coach Mike Turner said the first time he was asked to participate in the event was in 1973, when he was hired as hockey coach and a teacher at Trenton High School.

"It just seemed like the right thing to do to help these kids," Turner said. "They certainly wanted to be like everybody else, and just needed a little help, and getting them on the ice was a foreign experience for them."

Turner added his players enjoy giving back to the community and are "more than just hockey players."

"They're good kids," Turner said. "They see the joy on the faces on these kids and I think they understand. It's a good lesson for them to learn that not everybody has it as well as they do."

Cristine Howe, Trenton Board of Education member and Trenton Soroptimist, said the Soroptimists provided the snacks for the day, while the Trenton Parks and Recreation Department provided lunch.

Howe said the students are thrilled to be a part of the event.

Teachers and event organizers Carrie Harleton, Megan Hillmer and Kim Canzoneri specialize in teaching visually impaired students at Lincoln Park Public Schools from kindergarten to twelfth grade.

Harleton, a teacher at Carr Elementary School, said the students look forward to the event every year.

"It's just a time they get to have some interaction with other kids," Harleton said. "They (visually impaired students) kind of look up to them (Trenton students)...it's kind of like they have some role models to look up to."

Lesko said he enjoys helping students like Elijah and makes sure he gives them what they want.

"They like going fast and throwing snowballs," Lesko said.

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