LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - One of the most popular sports of the 2014 Paralympics in Sochi, Russia is sled hockey. WKYT's Amber Philpott got the chance to try the unfamiliar sport and introduces us to a Lexington man on a mission to bring sled hockey to the the bluegrass.
Even though hockey its not the sport of choice in Kentucky. For 24-year-old John Morris, its all he knows. In fact he started playing hockey when he was just three-years-old. Morris says he pretty much learned to walk and then learned to skate.
In 2012 Morris was reading the paper on a balcony when he fell. The accident threatened to take his love of hockey away. " I fell 35 feet, I ended up breaking my t12 vertabrae and I'm paralyzed from my waist down," said Morris. He spent months learning to live again, knowing he might never find his way back to the ice.
Confined to a wheelchair, his therapists worked to find activities to give him hope again, and then it came. " You want to make me happy, just get me on the ice. I don't care how you do it. I'll be the happiest person ever."
While it is not the hockey Morris was used to, it was the closest thing. Sled hockey has been around since the 1960s. It's a way for those with a disability to still get on the ice. As an outpatient at Cardinal Hill hospital, Morris found sled hockey motivated him.
"The twinkle in his eye, it was awesome. He said all of a sudden, there is something for me," said Cindy Jacobelli, the Director for Adaptive Recreation at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital.
Sled hockey is something Morris wants to share with others. Together Morris and Jacobelli are working to start the Bluegrass Adapted Sled Hockey League in Lexington. On Saturday March 1, dozens came out to the Lexington Ice Center to learn more.
"Right now I want to do recreational, I just want people to come out and have a good time and have people experience what I experience," said Morris.
While he needs a little help getting on and off the ice, its still a place Morris feels like himself.
" Its pretty much like second home, that's what I love. You have your one side off the ice and then there is your ice family, we are like brothers."
In this league, there are beginners and pros. Some who can use their legs others who cannot. On the ice they are all on the same level. Scoring a goal in this league for players like Morris has extra special meaning.
"Its about improving quality of life, and getting someone back to a sense of normalcy," said Jacobelli.
John Morris legs won't let him walk onto the ice, but in his sled he's ready when the puck drops.
"Its the best sport I think in the world," said Morris.
The Bluegrass Adapted Sled Hockey League was started with help of $10,000 in grant money.
For more information on BASH, go to www.bashockey.com or call 859-825-8167 or visit cardinalhill.org