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Hard to believe it's spring already but time flies when you're on the ice, and we already have lots to talk about for 2013.  Last year between Sled Hockey, Skate Therapy, STAR skates and outreach programs at events like Metal & Muscle and the Abilities Expo, STARskaters volunteers supported a total of 132 events...and 2013 is starting off at a pace which will exceed that number.

The 3 on 3 fundraiser tournament was held March 2nd at SLICE, read all about it in this edition along with a report from B.L. Wylie on the growth of the SkateTherapy program.

In Sled Hockey news, the Sled team will be in Philadelphia to play in the USA Hockey National Championships from March 21-24th.  A huge thanks to everyone for the donations and support which has enabled the team to make this trip.  Special thanks to Jenna Stephanos whose birthday donations started a landslide of donations. Read all about it below.

Want a chance to win AEROS seats between the benches?  Scroll down for details.

And, as always if you know of anyone who could benefit from any of our programs, please click the link below to FORWARD TO A FRIEND.


Jim ONeill

Win "Seats Between the Benches" at the AEROS
AEROS logo
Thanks to the Houston AEROS BOOSTER Club again this year you can win a chance to sit BETWEEN the benches at Center ice at the AEROS game on March 29th.

100% of all proceeds go to programs:

Tickets are just $1 each or 25 for $20.

Drawing will be held on March 23rd so get yours TODAY. You can even do it online. Just PAYPAL to

And, if you know anyone who could benefit from any program, please pass this note along to them. ALL PROGRAMS ARE AT NO COST to participants as we are funded completely by donations from cool people like YOU!
Team Texas Sled Stars Prepare for Nationals in Philadelphia
2013 Disabled Festival  
Team Texas Sled Hockey won Bronze in our first ever competition at the USA Hockey Disabled Festival.
March 21-24th, 2013 the tournament will be held in Philadelphia and this year the team will be going for the GOLD medal!
Sled Practice for PHL
In addition to our regular Saturday ice time at Ice Skate USA at Memorial City Mall, the Willowbrook AERODROME donated full ice for three practices to get the Sled Team ready for the tournament.

Kyle Huckaby will be in net for Team Texas Sled Hockey joined by six players from Houston and four from the Dallas Sled Hockey program.

Special thanks to the Texas Stars Hockey Club for donating our new jerseys.  Look for a tournament update in the next edition of this newsletter.
SkateTherapy News
Skate Therapy Logo
Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center is an exciting place to be on Saturday mornings. Skaters arrive, check in, apply name tags, get skates laced, and presto; the lobby is filled with skaters and their instructors ready to warm-up for the morning session. 

A few skater updates; Julian in his new skates for the first time now has perfectly straight ankles, 13 year old Jason hits the puck right into the net after just his 2nd week, 4 year old Ada smiles the entire time she is on the ice, thrilled to be standing up and going forward, Jim is learning to go backward. Nicki, one of the original members of the class has a break-through by balancing on one foot. Victor's coach says he sings as he skates (really fast), and is getting a pretty hefty hockey shot himself.
Skate Therapy Warmup
Off ice warmups Saturdays at 9:18am.

The goal of this program is to allow the skaters to learn to skate while earning the 14 level official badges of U.S. Figure Skating's Therapeutic Skating program.
There is something for everyone, even the parents! Nicki's mother has decided to learn to skate herself, and is doing well under the watchful eye of Basic Skills instructors. 

The class has grown so fast a waiting list had to be created, from which we invite those waiting to join the class when spaces are available. We are currently looking for additional instructors, who have been trained under the U. S. Figure Skating program. The anticipation of an additional session is under consideration at this time, that will allow us to add even more members, but not until we have additional instructors.  Skate Therapy Class - Barb

Our instructors are dedicated to this class with such fervor, that when one must be missed due to an emergency, they often leaves details for teaching his or her student. Real bonds develop between skaters and instructors, and we are told the positive influence of the class actually carries out through the week. Balance gets better, ability to follow directions improves, strength in otherwise weak legs happens, concentration increases and the skaters have the class to look forward to each Saturday. Every week a parent has a story to tell about changes that have occurred since their child started to skate.

There are many opportunities to give support to this new program. The entire program is run by volunteers, each giving of his/her time each Saturday morning to help these children. Equipment needs are increasing with each skater, additional ice time is necessary, educational materials that help the instructors become informed about the various conditions.
We thank you in advance for considering to volunteer or support our program!  We invite you to visit the class and witness the extraordinary kindness, wisdom, care, encouragement, and the thrill of a breakthroughs as they happen!

Jenna's Amazing Gift

Jenna's Gift

Jenna presents check to STARskaters founder Jim O'Neill
Six months ago, Jenna Stephanos, a 6th grade student, was introduced to the game of ice hockey by watching her dad Bill help out on Saturday mornings with the STARskaters Sled Hockey program.

This volunteering lead Jenna to build some very special relationships and bonds within the STARskaters program that will forever be a part of her life.


Eventually, Jenna got the hockey bug and began playing youth hockey.  She quickly grew to appreciate hockey's team concepts and challenges and ultimately was overjoyed to make so many friends on and off the ice.  Jenna soon set a goal to become her very best with the vision to someday play as well as her U.S Olympic Ice Hockey idol, Cammi Granato.  


Jenna has also quickly grown to understand and experience the positive impact that she can make upon the lives of others.  She annually contributes her time to charities such as the Salvation Army during the holiday season and has also sponsored a number of families in dire need through the church. Team Texas Sled 2012


In that spirit, as Jenna's 12th birthday approached, Jenna decided that she would ask her birthday party friends to not bring her gifts, but to instead bring a donation for the STARskaters Program.   Jenna said, "I really want everyone out there to have the opportunity to have as much fun on the ice as I have."    Collecting donations for the STARskaters program was the immediate perfect choice.  What happened next was unexpected.  Her $350 donation was matched by others who were inspired by her story and the total impact was nearly $2,000 donated to help send the STARskaters Sled Hockey Team to the USA National Championships in Philadelphia.


Not surprisingly, Jenna was awarded the Good Citizen Award at her school for two consecutive years.   Jenna has also won or been a finalist in annual Spelling Bee, Science Fair and Poetry contests and is currently an accelerated honors student at the 6th grade level.  An avid reader, Jenna also loves to play the piano, keyboards, and sing.  Jenna's life goals are to attend Harvard University, while playing ice hockey, and to become an Allergist or Dermatologist.


We are proud of Jenna and her accomplishments and thankful to have this calibre of individual as part of the STARskaters organization.

Pom Pom Gloves! 
Pom Pom gloves
Are you looking for a unique gift idea, and let your purchase go to work for a great cause?  How about...Pom Pom Gloves?
Pom Pom Gloves are a fun way to cheer on your team, complete with bells attached, and are hand-made by STARskaters volunteers.

If you'd like to order a pair for just $10, contact

Sponsors Needed
Sled Hockey, Therapeutic Skating, Brochures and Web

When you sponsor any of our programs for Sled Hockey, Therapeutic Skating and our STAR skates, we have
many ways that we can promote your business:
  • Web ads
  • Newsletter promotion
  • Event signage
  • Sled signage
  • T-shirt logos
  • Jersey sponsorship
  • Printed brochures
  • Electronic brochures
Any or all of these are available to you based on your level of sponsorship.  For more, contact

3 on 3 Tournament Results
87 Hockey Players Compete to Raise Funds for Sled Hockey Team
Martinez 3 on 3
The huge heart of the hockey community was on display March 2nd for the 5th annual
3 on 3 hockey tournament.

For the first time ever, a Family division was included in the tournament.  It was the brainchild of division organizer Leslie Pankey and the Martinez family (above) took home the gold medals.

Claudia Brown organized the women's division which featured five teams and it was the Flintstones Team comprised of Betty Hale, Jennifer Khan, Jen Schneider and Lucy Shepard who came out on top. Novice Champs

The OUCH award goes to Barry Price who organized the Novice division but was unable to play due to injury.  Rich Witt's team (at right) of Kenneth Sutton, Matthew Louie, Steve Mills and Matt Scharr took first place in the novice division.

Dave Steadman's Canadian Club of Houston division Championship game was a barn burner with the Jets and the Outcasts needing a shootout before the medals could be handed out to Jets Bruce and Alexi Red
ies, Rob Berns and Justin Desilets. (below) 
CCOH Champs
After the games players were treated to their favorite beverages, pizza from Jambone's and assorted snacks and sweet treats prepared by Lilia O'Neill.

Goalies competed for individual awards and Scott Ruffing posted the best save % with a .908.  Youth goalie Ryan Weitzel turned in the best goals against average of 2 GAA.

Goalie Awards
Top 5 in Save %
Scott Ruffing .908
Karen Whittenberg .870
Cameron Heiser .869
Scott Kramer .859
Matt Schlegel .819

Top 5 in Goals Against
Ryan Weitzel. 2.0
Cameron Heiser 2.25
Scott Ruffing 3.0
Karen Whittenberg 3.2
Scott Kramer 4.0

Thanks to ALL the goalies who came out and subjected themselves to non-stop target practice, and thanks
to everyone who participated, volunteered, and donated to make this 3 on 3 Tournament our most successful to date.
New STARskaters Brochure
Online PDF available by clicking here

STARbrochure 2012
Sponsors are being sought for the 2013 version of the STARskaters brochure.

The brochure is distributed at area ice rinks, sponsor locations and the Toyota Center at the table at most Houston AEROS games.

Inside, you'll read about the history of Sled Hockey and learn more about STARskaters programs:
  • Skate Therapy.
  • Sled Hockey.
  • STAR Skate events.
You can also read more about how you can get involved in the STARskaters program as a volunteer, donor or organizing a STAR Skate for groups with special needs.

If you would like a supply of brochures shipped to you, contact
STARskaters mission is to provide an on ice skating experience for therapy and recreation for children and adults with any special needs, and to support SLED HOCKEY in Houston.

The program is open to anyone five years of age or older who would normally be unable to enjoy an on-ice skating experience due to their disability. is a public charity registered in Texas as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Tax ID number 26-1657556. 

All donations are tax deductible.

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In This Issue
Win AEROS Seats Between the Benches
Sled Hockey Team Heads to Philly
SkateTherapy News
Jenna's Amazing Gift
Get your Pom Pom Gloves!
Sponsors Needed
3 on 3 Results
STARskaters Brochure
Video, Audio & Social Media
STAR Supporter
STAR Volunteer
Sponsor Links



For more information, contact


Francesca's Story - Skate Therapy


Joseph's Story - Sled Hockey


Roberto's Story - Skate Therapy 


Video - What is Sled Hockey?  


Get Sledding - Sled Hockey Music Video  


Sled Hockey on KPRC   


Interview "Talking Sled Hockey" with James Dunham 


STARskaters Mission Video   


Social Media, Brochure, Audio  

Texas Sled Hockey on Facebook  


Skate Therapy on Facebook  


STARskaters Brochure - Download


STARskaters Radio Spot 



Find us on Facebook

STAR Supporter
Sugar Land Ice & Sports Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center

What is today the program grew from a disabled group skating event that was held at Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center.


From those early beginnings, Sugar Land Ice has been there as the STARskaters programs grew and developed.  Today, the SkateTherapy program is one of just a handful of programs in the country which teach disabled individuals to skate.  And, it serves as a model to other clubs to start or advance their programs.


"SLICE" has also hosted numerous 3 on 3 hockey Fundraisers, such as the one recently held on March 2nd to support the Team Texas Sled Stars as they raise much needed funds to play at the National Sled Hockey tournament in Philadelphia.


Their figure skating instructors lend their time and experience every Saturday to make the SkateTherapy program possible.


And, recently, GM Jamie Feltus announced the generous donation of ice time for the program each week.


Words can not thank Jamie and her entire team at Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center enough for their ongoing support.  Their support has made the SkateTherapy program a model for other rinks to follow nationwide and we encourage everyone to check out the many great programs they offer in person or on the web at:

STAR Volunteer
Mandy B
STAR Volunteer
Mandy Benavides

Even before was born, Mandy was there from the earliest days of STARskaters therapeutic skating program.

She began volunteering with STARskaters when the program began at Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center in 2010.
Mandy's 14 years of skating experience combined with the compassion gained from her nursing work are the perfect mix to instruct her students.  Her love of children is evident when watching her with her students on the ice.
Mandy has been skating since age 8 and has competed at both the national and international levels.  She started coaching at age 14 as an assistant coach and at age 16 became a head coach.
Off the ice she is currently in school finishing her bachelors in nursing science and expects to start pre med next January. Her goal is to be a internal medicine sports medicine doctor specializing in injured athletes and prevention. 
Most of her SkateTherapy work has been with skaters Francesca and Nicki.  She says that in addition to teaching, she also learns from her students. "Nicki teaches me to better my communication skills. With Francesca I was able to talkand explain to her what to do and what to feel but with Nikki I cant do that.  I have to show her and speak sign language which her wonderful mother and Alisa Robertson are teaching me.  I am learning how to think even more outside the box".

Click here to see a video of Mandy and Francesca, born blind, but who learned to skate thanks to Mandy.  Or, as Francesca calls her skating instructor "Bomb-Diggity".

 At home she loves to cook from scratch and is an animal lover with a German shepherd named Jake.  Her brother Jonathan plays hockey "up north" on a junior team and she credits her parents Cyndi and Greg for the guidance and support they provide Mandy and her brother. 

If you'd like to join Mandy as a volunteer either on or off the ice, see upcoming STARskaters volunteer opportunities, click here.

And, if you'd like to get involved, contact us at
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