Special Olympics New York Announces Partnership with NHL, NY Islanders and Islanders Children Foundation

NHL and its Clubs Committed to Making Hockey Accessible to All Fans

NEW YORK, NY – As a legacy to the 2024 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series, the New York Islanders, Islanders Children’s Foundation, and National Hockey League (NHL) will support various forms of adaptive hockey on Long Island with a multi-year financial commitment. The Special Olympics New York, Long Island Rough Riders (sled hockey), and Long Island Blues (special hockey) will receive funding, with the latter two also receiving ice time at The Park at UBS Arena Presented by Northwell for practices and games, reducing barriers to play and ensuring hockey is accessible to all fans.

Earlier today, the three organizations were joined by representatives from the Islanders and the NHL to celebrate the commitment to adaptive hockey at an event at UBS Arena. Islanders’ co-owner Jon Ledecky, four-time Stanley Cup Champion John Tonelli, and alumnus and current NHL Network and MSG analyst Thomas Hickey took part.

“This is champions building champions,” said Special Olympics New York President & CEO Stacey Hengsterman. “When humanitarian organizations like the NHL and the Islanders dedicate their time and treasure to inclusion, the entire community benefits. Special Olympics New York is honored and so grateful to be included in the NHL’s Legacy Initiative, which shares our mission of ensuring access to competitive sports for people of all abilities.”

Special Olympics New York provides free year-round training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them opportunities to develop physical fitness and experience joy through sport. Founded in 1970, the organization offers 22 different sports at no cost to its athletes. The legacy funding will help transition their hockey program to floorball. This will allow the athletes to compete beyond the state level, which is something they are able to do for all other sports. Special Olympics New York serves more than 42,000 athletes throughout the State who train for local, regional, and statewide competitions, with more than 6,000 coaches and 21,000 volunteers.

The Long Island Rough Riders use sled hockey to promote sportsmanship, teamwork, and camaraderie among physically and/or mentally challenged athletes. Focused on providing targeted programs for adolescents and adults, the team works together to foster self-esteem and self-confidence. Using sled hockey as the vehicle, they are committed to building a resilient and inclusive community.

The Long Island Blues special hockey team is dedicated to children and adults with disabilities. The program teaches skating and hockey skills as well as giving the player the opportunity to participate in a team sport. The organization uses the game to assist individuals with developmental disabilities to be more successful within, and outside, a hockey environment. For 20 years, the Blues and its volunteers have been dedicated to educating the public about special hockey, and promoting societal awareness of the challenges and needs of people with developmental disabilities.

“More than ever before, the NHL is listening to, learning about, and investing in adaptive hockey in unique ways,” said Kim Davis, NHL Sr. Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs. “From showcasing world-class talent at the Sled Hockey Classic, to demonstrating blind hockey for thousands of fans during 2024 NHL All-Star weekend, to producing innovations in adaptive equipment and infrastructure, or interpreting our event productions in American Sign Language, we are committed to opening access and raising the quality of those experiences for all.”

The Legacy initiative is a continuing philanthropic endeavor through which the NHL and the local Club support community organizations in the host city of an NHL Event. Since having its first Legacy event in 2003, the League, its Clubs and partners have donated more than $7 million to communities across North America. Legacy projects have aided thousands of hospital patients in recovery; helped at-risk youth and families gain better access to educational and vocational training; and provided greater access to people of all ages to learn and play hockey.