Dozens Of People Overcome Obstacles Through Sled Hockey In Sioux Falls

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Dozens of people from Sioux Falls and the surrounding area are turning challenges into opportunities.

Saturday, the Scheels IcePlex hosted a sled hockey clinic for people who aren’t able stand on skates.

It’s the first time the sport has been played in Sioux Falls and it’s giving people with disabilities a chance to get out on the ice.

What some would see as an obstacle, Roger Wendling sees as a pathway to success.

“I was diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis) about five years ago,” said Wendling. “I’ve been very blessed with the people here that help.”

For the first time in more than 40 years, Wendling is finally getting back out on the ice.

“I’ve ice skated once in my life when I was maybe 15-years-old,” said Wendling. “It was very scary. I’m almost 60-years-old, so this is very scary now.”

And he says it’s something he never thought he’d ever do again.

“A lot of people, myself included, didn’t think I’d be able to do something like this,” said Wendling. “But with the help of Sanford, Avera and the VA, we’re able to do so.”

“Most of our members aren’t able to stand-up and do regular hockey,” said Austin Ringling, Physical Therapist for Sanford Health. “So we have a sled-lending program from Team USA so they can sit on a sled and push around the ice.”

For the very first time, the Scheels IcePlex is offering those who can’t stand on skates another option.

Corey Mitchell with USA Hockey says sled hockey is a mix of downhill slope skiing and sitting in a wheel chair.

He says to his knowledge, this is the first time the sport has been played in South Dakota.

“Sioux Falls is a great sports town,” said Wendling. “And there’s no reason why it shouldn’t extend to this population as well.”

“Stuff like this doesn’t come around very often,” said Paul Groeneweg, Iowa Resident. “And it’s new and I love doing something new.”

In 2011, Iowa resident Paul Groeneweg suffered a spinal cord stroke that paralyzed him from the belly button down.

And he says for him, the sled hockey clinic gives him a sense of belonging.

“We can’t do what a lot of people can and maybe this is something that we can do,” said Groeneweg.

If you’re interested in trying out sled hockey, the Scheels IcePlex is hosting another clinic Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

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