Submitted by john murphy on Fri, Apr 27, 2012

I’m happy to announce that our April hero has been chosen and vetted. The Selection Committee has chosen Alex DePalma for the work he does with developmentally disabled children/adults. Alex, a lifelong hockey coach, started the Brick Stars Challenger Program a few years ago at Ocean Ice Palace. The program teaches children/adults with developmental disabilities how to skate and play hockey. Here is a little background on the program in Alex’s words:

After coaching for some 25 years, Alex DePalma felt as if he needed a new challenge. So, he started the program, open to all Ocean and Monmouth county children and adults with developmental disabilities. The program is designed to help players learn the fundamental skills to play and enjoy ice hockey.

“When I started this program, the goal was to open up the sport of ice hockey to another part of society,” DePalma said. “We have a large special needs community around here, and New Jersey has the largest autistic community in the country. We wanted to get as many of these people on the ice to experience the greatest sport on the planet.”

“It turned into something a lot larger than I expected,” he said. “With many of these kids, their lives started changing. They became more animated. They were talking more. Their focus improved. They got stronger and developed more confidence. We started with eight kids and now we have almost 30. “I’d be lying if I said I knew it was going to get this big.”

But now, the goal is to get bigger and continue to provide this valuable opportunity to children and adults with special needs. “Hockey is addicting,” Crepaldi said. “This program is not only about skating. It’s about coordination, strength, endurance, motivation, building confidence and becoming independent. When these kids step onto the ice and start skating, they’ve opened themselves up do to so many other things.

He is a very deserving hero and I’m really looking forward to the event. It will be taking place on Friday, April 27th at 11am at Ocean Ice Palace, 197 Chambers Bridge Road, Brick. We would love if some of you are able to make it, so let me know!

Thanks,
Casey

Casey Girardi
Executive Director
New Jersey Heroes Foundation

Date of Publication: 
Fri, Apr 27, 2012