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Paralympic Sport Club
STARskaters is a USOC Paralympic Sport Club
When assembling these quarterly newsletters I'm continually amazed at how much is going on with both the Sled Hockey and SkateTherapy programs, and how lucky we are to have the wonderful volunteers and supporters who make it all possible.  I can't say it enough - Thank you!

We understand not everyone has the time or resources to support our programs so we are always looking for new ways to make it easy for as many to get involved as possible.  One way is the new AmazonSmile program which you'll read about in this newsletter. 

AmazonSmile makes it easy for anyone to support our mission, at no cost to them, just by selecting STARskaters as your designated charity on AmazonSmile.

All you need to do is start your shopping at and choose STARskaters as your charity of choice.

It's that simple!  AmazonSmile is a great way to pay it forward, without paying any extra, just by shopping!

Volunteers make all our programs possible, so May 9th, STARskaters invited our volunteers, supporters, parents and athletes to join us at a Skeeters Baseball game.  Read about that event as well as how our Sled Hockey STARS brought Silver back from the National Championships in Boston.  One of our players, Andy Noland, was riding high in a new custom bucket from Hanger Orthotics. Read his story in this edition as well.

Westview School's annual STAR Skate was hosted by the Willowbrook AERODROME and STARskaters was also out and about for both the Shriner's Hospital inaugural Adaptive Sports Fair and the "Walk and Roll" event at the City of Houston Adaptive Sports Center. 

In just one year, Houston Amputee Society (H.A.S.) has become a valuable resource for amputees of all ages, and founder Jeff Bourns is profiled, along with Kelly Otero, whose time and talents are front and center at SkateTherapy every Saturday morning.

Ice Skate USASpecial thanks to our amazing  Sugar Land Ice & Sports 
RINK PARTNERS,Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center, Ice Skate USA at Memorial City Mall and the AERODROME 
for their ongoing support for STAR's programs.   
Next time you're by any of the rinks be sure and let them know how much you appreciate their support!


Jim O'Neill
A U.S. Paralympic Sport Club

AmazonSmile -Shop & Support!

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. 
When you begin your shopping at, you'll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization, like STARskaters.
Click here for more information and we hope you'll choose to support STARskaters when you next shop at Amazon!
STAR Skeeters Baseball Night

Coach Reid is mobbed by his Skeeters fan club
The rain didn't dampen the spirits of STARskaters Sled Hockey players, SkateTherapy participants, volunteers, instructors and supporters who came out and enjoyed an evening at the ballpark. 

Due to the rain delay, thousands of fans took shelter in the concourse and used the opportunity to stop by and learn about STARskaters programs.
Bagina and Reid man the STARSkaters table
Visitors to the STARskaters exhibit table got a chance to take a look at the trophy won by our Sled Hockey team at the recent USA Hockey National Championships in Boston.

We made lots of new friends as they flipped through our event memory book, picked up a brochure or koozie and saw Sled Hockey equipment firsthand.  

Thanks to everyone who braved the weather to join us and we look forward to seeing you at a STARskaters event soon!
My Sled Story - By Andrew Noland
Andy all smiles with the hard earned trophy from Sled Nationals


Getting into sled hockey has always been a dream of mine. Ever since I was a little kid, I have been fascinated with the sport of hockey. 


I've had spina bifida since birth which prevents me from standing or walking. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would get a chance to actually play the game of hockey, but in August of 2012 I realized my dream would soon become a reality.


Meeting Jim O'Neill at the Abilities Expo in Houston was the start of a wild but amazing journey. I have been on the ice playing Sled Hockey nearly every Saturday since our meeting in 2012.


I've also had the opportunity to participate in two National Sled Hockey tournaments and most recently was part of the team that won a Silver Medal in Boston this past April.  

The balance provided by the new bucket helps Andy carve tighter turns


A big part of my progress is due to a new Sled "bucket" which was custom made by the wonderful people of Hanger in Houston.  This new bucket makes it possible for me to sit on my knees while playing  This has helped my balance, speed and mobility tremendously!


Add to the new bucket the great instruction from our coaches Reid and Ivan, and my skills have improved significantly in the past year. 


This journey of playing hockey has opened me up to many great opportunities to do other things, and it has also taught me to become a better player on the ice and better person off the ice.


I would encourage everyone to consider giving Sled Hockey a try.  You will not be disappointed.  Come join me Saturday mornings at Ice Skate USA at Memorial City Mall from 10-11am!                                  

STARskaters Instructors Honored For Work With Autistic Children
Reprinted from Figure Skating Magazine


The STARskaters SkateTherapy instructors from the Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center received the "Caring Friends" award in March for their efforts in promoting acceptance and inclusion of individuals with Autism.


The STARskaters instructors use U.S. Figure Skating's Basic Skills curriculum, founded by B.L. Wylie and Jim O'Neill, in their on-ice instruction with children with autism and other special needs.


Skate Therapy Logo

Sugar Land is one of the first cities to offer the program.  Benefits include improved strength, balance and interaction with coaches and peers.


Special needs skating lessons are offered every Saturday morning at Sugar Land Ice & Sports Center.  For more information visit  


To view the original article from Skating Magazine, click here.

Texas STARS Take Silver Medal
2014 Sled Hockey National Championships in Boston, MassPlayers from Houston and Austin joined forces April 10-13th and traveled to Boston, Massachusetts to take on teams from across the country in the USA Hockey 2014 Disabled Hockey Festival.
Chris Taylor, MVP
 First time goalie Chris Taylor turned in a shutout performance in 2 of the 3 games and was named MVP of the tournament for the Texas STARS.
This was the third trip to Nationals our Sled Hockey players, turning in the best result in competition so far.  The team failed to medal last year at the games in Philadelphia, PA and won Bronze in their first ever National Tournament held in Dallas in 2012.
Bagina Rwiyereka and David Wear give chase to the Buffalo player
Several players were making their first trip to Nationals including Tamar Burr, Zack Ruhl, Shane Graves and Goalie Chris Taylor who had allowed no goals in two of the games in the tournament.  Both Bagina Rwiyereka and Zack Ruhl had game winning goals for the Texas STARS.
Thank you so much to all of the donors, volunteers and supporters who made the trip possible.  Rest assured the practices will become more intense as the team looks to continue to improve next year with all eyes set on bringing home the Gold medal!
STAR at Shriners Hospital
COH's Chuck French,  STARskaters'
Jim O'Neill and HAS's Jeff Bourns
In April, Shriners Hospital in the Medical Center held their first ever Adaptive Sports Fair for children and families in the Houston area through the newly created "Team ACTIVE". 
STARskaters founder Jim O'Neill joined the event to provide attendees information about the social, therapeutic and recreational benefits of SkateTherapy and Sled Hockey programs.
The event addressed the need for children of all ages and abilities to engage in extra-curricular activities which promote health, development, social involvement and positive self-efficacy. 
Many Houston area adaptive sports programs and support organizations were represented including the City of Houston Adaptive Sports Center and HAS, the Houston Amputee Society.  
The goal of the event was to provide education regarding the adaptive activities available in the Houston area and encourage children and families with different abilities and special needs to get involved in the community and have FUN!

The Shriners motto is "No man stands so tall as when he stoops to help a crippled child".  We are pleased to say that everyone at the event was standing tall and we look forward to the next Shriners Sports Fair. 
Westview STAR Skate
For the third year, students from the Westview School took the ice at the Wilowbrook Aerodrome to enjoy the coolest sport on the planet - ice skating!
The event was a STAR skate, the original event idea when STARskaters was founded in 2008.  STAR skates involve a school or other organization serving disabled individuals who would like to host an on-ice event.
It was at a STAR skate for ARC of Ft. Bend County that B.L. Wylie first learned of STARskaters and that meeting was the impetus for what is today our SkateTherapy program.
At the Westview event, skaters were split into two groups.  While one was on the ice, the other had lunch, a tour of the rink facility and an up close and personal Zamboni experience.  After an hour the groups switched places and from all feedback, a great time was had by all.
Thanks to the folks at the Aerodrome for their assistance during the event and ongoing support of STARskaters and our programs.
If you would like to schedule a STAR skate for your organization, contact:
Spring Sled Hockey Weekend
Coach Ivan Selever draws out a drill  
for the Sled Hockey team
In preparation for the Sled Hockey tournament in Boston, players from Houston and Austin enjoyed an intense weekend of Sled skills & drills, and scrimmage games April 5-6th..
Four ice times over two days were scheduled  between the rinks at Memorial City and Willowbrook.  Six hours of hockey had the players sore, but ready for the tournament the following weekend.  
Thanks to all the volunteers, Coach Ivan, and to the folks who donated equipment which was graciously stored by the Aerodrome. The donated gear ensured that everyone had all the right protective equipment needed for competitive tournament action.
In the end, the team fell one goal short of the gold medal, but taking second place just served as additional motivation for next year.
For more on Sled Hockey visit
FOX26 Features SkateTherapy
SkateTherapy on FOX26
SkateTherapy featured on FOX26

Sponsors Needed
Sled Hockey, Therapeutic Skating, Brochures and Web

If you'd like to support our Sled Hockey and SkateTherapy programs as a sponsor, we have many ways to get the word out about 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

New STARskaters Brochure
Online PDF available by clicking here

STARbrochure 2012
Sponsors are being sought for the 2014 version of the STARskaters brochure.

The brochure is distributed at area ice rinks, sponsor locations, outreach events, and at Sugar Land Imperials 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 distribute STARskaters brochures at your location, contact
STARskaters mission is to provide an on ice skating experience for therapy and recreation for children and adults with 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
Support STAR with Amazon Smile
STAR Skeeters Baseball
Andy's Sled Story
SkateTherapy Instructors Honored
Boston Sled Championships
STAR at Shriners Hospital
Westview STAR Skate
Sled Hockey Weekend
Skate Therapy on FOX
Sponsors Needed
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?  


Raising an Olympian - Taylor Lipsett


Get Sledding - Sled Hockey Music Video  


Sled Hockey on KPRC   


STARskaters Mission Video   


Social Media, Brochure, Audio  

Texas Sled Hockey on Facebook  


SkateTherapy on Facebook  


STARskaters Brochure - Download


STARskaters Radio Spot


SkateTherapy in Skating Magazine



Find us on Facebook

STAR Supporter

Houston Amputee Society
In the past few months, STARskaters has developed a strong working relationship with the Houston Amputee Society, or H.A.S.  The mission of H.A.S. is to actively serve the amputee community through a variety of programs and resources that benefit all amputees and community members by creating relationships.  This connects individuals who have shared similar experiences to help navigate life's new challenges ahead.
Several H.A.S. members have already taken to the ice to enjoy the liberating experience of Sled Hockey, including Tamar Burr who joined The Texas STARs Sled Hockey team in Boston. (see story in this newsletter) and we look forward to getting more of their members, especially youth players, involved in STARskaters.

Founded in 2013 by Jeff Bourns,  H.A.S. is all inclusive advocating community and sense of family. They participate in social outings and try different adaptive sports that benefit all amputees and community members in an accepting environment. 
Jeff R. Bourns was born in Parkersburg, WV. Due to a congenital birth defect doctors determined his right leg needed to be amputated below the knee when he was just 2 months old. 
Despite the obstacles Jeff persevered and lead a very active childhood. He played the euphonium in the marching band, was on the high school tennis team, and eventually after high school in the year 2000 he began competing as an amputee athlete. Jeff sprinted in the 100m, 200m and also swam in the 50 and 100m Free Stroke and Butterfly. 
By competing he was exposed to an environment that felt natural by coming in contact with fellow peers who shared the same hardships as he did. This eventually led Jeff to begin volunteering for the Shriners, Ben Taub, and Memorial Hermann hospitals welcoming new amputees into the community and sharing his experiences with them. 

Currently Bourns resides in Houston, TX, and enjoys spending time hiking with his son Parker, playing tennis, and participates in speaking engagements, advocating for amputees, and sharing his life journey. 
Through his efforts and those of the H.A.S. organization, Jeff Bourns hopes to champion change and make a difference in the amputee community.
For more information visit:
STAR Volunteer
Kelly Otero

Early Saturday mornings, Kelly Otero is always there to meet and greet the skaters and check them in. The chilly rink is always warmed by Otero's presence and brightened by her smile. 


Her investments into SkateTherapy have helped the program run smoothly each weekend, and the time she has put into the program have helped it to grow and improve.


It all started out when she received an email from Mrs. Wylie that asked if Otero would support the annual auction. She responded with a yes, and soon took on the role of checking-in coaches and skaters on Saturday mornings. 


SkateTherapy began to take root in her heart as she got "to know a lot of the people and the skaters' families." 


In fact, Otero's sister lives with Down Syndrome, so working with the kids in the program has a special meaning for her. Her seven-year old daughter sees the work the older coaches put in and hopes to do the same.


Otero says that she "loves to hear [her daughter] say, 'I can't wait until I'm old enough to be a coach for Skate Therapy.'" Otero is impressed and proud of the fact her daughter "looks forward" to being part of the SkateTherapy staff when she comes of age. Things such as these aren't generally on the minds of young children, which only goes to show the positive reach of this program.


Otero hopes Skate Therapy will "continue to bring in great coaches and great skaters," and hopefully more programs will open up across the nation. SkateTherapy touches and changes not only the skaters' lives, but enriches the lives of our volunteers and staff as well. 


-  Article by Nina Jiang


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