Family shows there are no limits when it comes to hockey
Sunday is a big day for the Hilde family of Detroit Lakes. Not only are brothers Tanner, 9, and Logan, 10, getting to show the public their talents on the ice, their dad, Jason, gets to see his boys play hockey in the Kent Freeman Arena, an occur...
Sunday is a big day for the Hilde family of Detroit Lakes. Not only are brothers Tanner, 9, and Logan, 10, getting to show the public their talents on the ice, their dad, Jason, gets to see his boys play hockey in the Kent Freeman Arena, an occurrence he never thought he’d get to experience.
Tanner and Logan have been Laker fans ever since they were little. Hilde himself got interested at age 19 when he met Rich and Bonnie Seebold, and now he brings his sons to watch the Seebolds’ son, Trey, play.
You could say hockey runs in the Hilde family.
“I really enjoy watching hockey, but when I look down and watch Logan play, he is really into hockey,” Hilde said. “I’ve never seen a kid that crazy into hockey.”
You see, the Hilde brothers have special needs and can’t play your average school sports.
When they were younger, Tanner and Logan participated in a Halloween talent show through HealthCare Accessories, which is where Logan gets his wheelchair and other needed equipment. It was there that Jason’s wife, April Hilde, met Bill and Adair Grommesh. They spread the word about Hope, Inc., and got the Hildes on a mailing list of events.
“We eventually got into sled hockey and it just blossomed into pretty much everything Logan and Tanner can do with them,” Jason Hilde said.
Hope, Inc., serves mobility-challenged children and adults. Logan has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair, and Tanner is on the autism spectrum. Both attend Roosevelt Elementary School in Detroit Lakes.
Hope, Inc., doesn’t just offer sled hockey either. Other sports include indoor track and field, summer camp with swimming and various other summer activities, indoor soccer, adaptive skiing, bowling and more.
Adair Grommesh runs Hope, Inc., based in Moorhead, and said it’s families like the Hildes that are so important to the success of the organization.
“They are feeling so blessed the world is opening up to them, and we feel very grateful that they entrust their kids to us,” Grommesh said.
She said Hope, Inc., started on a personal level for her and her family because her son has spina bifida and is confined to a wheelchair. When he and her daughter were younger, the Grommeshes would bring their daughter to gymnastics practice, and her son, who was 5 at the time, would cry because he couldn’t be in any sports or physical activities.
“He would cry and cry because there was nothing for him to do. He had to just sit on the sidelines and watch,” she said. “That was one of those revlation moments where my husband and I just said, ‘You know, let’s look and see what’s out there. There’s got to be something out there.’ And there wasn’t.”
So they decided to start their own.
Hope, Inc., was already a one-week summer camp in existence, and the Grommeshes took it to the next level after being asked to take over the leadership.
“A one-week summer camp just doesn’t cut it for kids,” she said of making it a year-round program. That was 10 years ago.
And Hope, Inc., isn’t just benefiting those in wheelchairs but also the entire family. Grommesh said the activities have helped Tanner come out of his shell as well.
“He makes more eye contact, he gives high fives and he talks more, he’s more comfortable” she said. “So it’s not just the one child with the mobility challenge that flourishes and benefits from our program, it’s the whole family.”
To showcase Hope, Inc., and what the program has to offer, this Sunday, the Grommeshes and the Hildes will be at the Kent Freeman Arena in Detroit Lakes from 1 to 3 p.m., showing off sled hockey. Everyone is welcome to come watch – and even try out – the sport for themselves.
First, players will get to show off their skills, and then Grommesh is hoping others will get out and try the sport for themselves.
“We want the community to come out and watch. Even if they don’t jump in a sled, we want them to see life is good. There are adaptive opportunities for kids to live a fulfilling life. It’s different, but it’s awesome,” she said.
Kids and adults are welcome to try out the sleds.
“In adaptive hockey, we put kids with special needs in a sled and then they give them hockey sticks in each hand. They have little cleats at the end of the sticks so the kids can push themselves. If they don’t want to push themselves, they can be pushed with a handle in the back,” Hilde explained.
“I tell you, that sled hockey is so much fun. I really don’t know who has more fun, me or my boys,” he added.
The brothers have been playing for two years, and this year, Logan has started playing goalie. He wears a helmet, goalie glove and goalie stick (courtesy of the Fargo Force) just like in regular hockey, trying to block oncoming pucks.
“My brother-in-law stands behind him in the goal to set him sideways in front of the goal,” Hilde said.
They taped up Logan’s stick and he’s getting better and better at blocking pucks on the ice and has started stopping pucks in the air as well.
Last year, Hilde ran on ice cleats behind Tanner, pushing his sled, and it was fun, he said, but he asked the boys this year if they wanted him to be on skates.
“I haven’t been on skates in 15 years but they wanted me to do it so I pulled out my old skates and I tell you what, it’s been really fun,” he said, passion and pride coming through in his voice.
“Bill (Grommesh) is always on my case to slow down, and Tanner wants me to go faster, so it’s a no win situation,” he added with a laugh.
With Logan being in a wheelchair, Hilde said there’s no way his son could have played regular high school sports. With Hope, Inc., and the adaptive sports they offer, Logan is able to compete with and against other kids with special needs.
“This gives him a chance to shine in his own way,” he said.
Logan and Tanner both participate in other sports Hope, Inc., has to offer besides sled hockey.
Though Hilde said he would pay any cost to be able to have his boys play sled hockey, this year his boss, Mike Herzog made a donation to Hope, Inc., and the Hilde brothers get to play sled hockey for free this year – something Hilde said he’s grateful for.
The Hope, Inc., team travels to various cities to compete in games against other adaptive groups. Once the boys get older and can move into the self-propelled division, Hilde said they will be traveling even more. They will have opportunities to compete in New York, Michigan, California and more.
Hilde said the only bad thing about the entire situation is that he waited as long as he did to get his boys involved. He said that Logan had been asking to try out sled hockey, and Hilde put it off because of other commitments.
“We finally made the commitment, and I tell you what, I’m going to be there every Saturday,” he said.
For more information on Hope, Inc., visit hopeinc.org .