Column submitted by Lt. Nick Anderson of the Bedford Fire Department:
The Town of Bedford employees and BHS Alumni will take on the Bedford High School hockey team in a game to support the BHS hockey program and the Association for Autism and Neurodiversity (AANE).
This annual game will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. on the lower rink at the Edge Sports Center in Bedford on Friday, Nov. 24. Admission is $5 at the door with no advance ticket sales. Children, ages 10 and under, are admitted free with a non-perishable food donation.
There will be a 50-50 raffle and T-shirt sales to benefit the Bedford High School hockey team. Admission will be split between the hockey team and AANE. There will also be silent auctions and raffle prizes to benefit AANE. The full list of prizes will be posted on the Facebook event page this week.
At every practice and home game for four years, I have looked at a quote from the father of 1980 Team USA Olympic co-hero Mark Johnson painted on the press box in Rink 2 at Valley Sports in West Concord. “Badger Bob” Johnson said, “It’s a great day for hockey!”
A dozen years before the Edge Sports Center opened in Bedford, West Concord was Bedford High School’s home rink.
Since then, I have found my way around recreational street, roller, and ice hockey leagues. To anyone who is willing to listen, I tell them that hockey is the greatest sport. Why? Because hockey is for everyone. I do not know how many other sports can claim this, but whether you are a 40-year-old who is learning to skate or a D1 college player looking for hockey after college, there is a league for you.
This inclusive spirit is what drives me to host this game and bring alumni and town employees of all age groups to the roster. This includes freshly graduated players to the 66-year-old goaltender who was our best netminder in the Thanksgiving Classic 2018. You are missed, Steve Hatch, rest in peace.
When I started hosting this game, I realized I also had a tremendous opportunity to continue the outreach beyond just the local hockey community. I chose to add a charitable aspect to the game.
The choice of a beneficiary was almost as easy as choosing the genre of the beneficiary: ASD. According to the Autism Speaks website, 1 in 35 children, ages 3-17, are diagnosed with ASD. That is one student in every other classroom in a small-town school such as Bedford who has been diagnosed with ASD.
My oldest childhood friend has two wonderful children nearing adulthood, both on the spectrum. When I found the Association for Autism and Neurodiversity (AANE), formerly known as the Asperger’s/Autism Network, I saw that their reach is far beyond what you might expect of a local non-profit organization. Not only do they help parents with children, but they also help parents of adult children, professionals, spouses, and they even offer services to those from out of state looking for assistance.
Looking at their website and seeing all that they offer made the choice simple. Being local out of Watertown also helped the decision.
For more information, please visit http://www.aane.org