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Empire State Winter Games Torch Stops at STRIDE in 2020!


Contact: Megan Evans

Tel: (518) 598-1279




West Sand Lake, NY – The torch relay for New York’s largest sporting event will make a scheduled stop in the Capital Region on its way to Lake Placid. The Empire State Winter Games torch will be coming to STRIDE Adaptive Sports on Tuesday, January 28th at 6PM at 4482 NY Highway 150 in West Sand Lake.

The stop will honor STRIDE’s Capital District Sled Warriors, a sled hockey team of local athletes with disabilities, who will have their photo taken with the torch. The team, which won a silver medal in last year’s games, is hungry for gold this year and looking for a supportive send off from the community. Festivities will kick off at 6:00 pm and will include a short ceremony with remarks from the torch bearer. Light refreshments will be served, and the public is welcome to attend. Assemblymember Jake Ashby and Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin will also be in attendance as speakers.

 The trip of the torch over 700 miles is symbolic of the games uniting the entire state in friendly competition which is inclusive of athletes with disabilities. Just as fast-paced and physical as stand-up hockey, sled hockey follows most of the typical ice hockey rules with the exception of equipment. Players in this Paralympic sport sit in specially designed sleds with two hockey skate blades, and each player uses two sticks instead of one.

According to STRIDE Adaptive Sports founder and CEO, Mary Ellen Whitney, the games are a time for athletes with disabilities to shine and be recognized for their hard work, daily struggles, and positive attitude. “I founded STRIDE to promote equal opportunity in sports no matter what the disability,” said Whitney. “Locally, people are becoming aware of these hometown athletes, their interesting sports, and their hard work to overcome daily struggles. Sled hockey is challenging both physically and skill-wise. The Union Hockey men’s and women’s Division 1 hockey teams found this out firsthand when they took to sleds and scrimmaged the team recently. Now, we are sending off the team to Lake Placid to go for the gold, and I am happy they will get recognition on a broader level.”

The team features athletes with various physical and developmental disabilities who range in ages from 14-54 years old, including local military veterans. It is a great opportunity for players to not only be active and meet a support network of their local peers, but to, in the words of new athlete Brenda Jensis, experience freedom. “My week is about looking forward to pulling my jersey over my head, snapping my helmet on, getting in my sled, and feeling free again. To me the team is about feeling free, together. It’s about being there for each other, being competitive together, including winning and losing together. It’s pushing each other to be your best without letting our disabilities limit our abilities.”

There are significant expenses associated with the team and its trip to the Empire State Winter Games this year. Anyone wishing to help defray the cost with a donation can give at Opportunity is open for disabled veterans looking for a new sport.  Newcomers are invited to join the team on the ice to try the sled on the first Saturday of each month. Please RSVP to at  or call STRIDE’s office at (518)-598-1279. 


About STRIDE Adaptive Sports

Celebrating 34 years of service to the community, STRIDE Adaptive Sports is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides over 11,000 adaptive sport and recreation lessons each year to individuals with disabilities, focusing on youth and Wounded Warriors. With office headquarters in New York’s Capital Region, STRIDE offers programs in over 18 different sports to more than 2500 families at 28+ regional locations each year. With an emphasis on individual life-time sports, STRIDE programs use specialized equipment or teaching aids for successful participation to “level the playing field” for all. STRIDE is a partner member of Disabled Sports USA and Professional Ski Instructors of America; a US Paralympic Sport Club; a training club for New York Special Olympics.. STRIDE is recognized as one of the leading adaptive sport programs in the Northeastern United States. More information about STRIDE Adaptive Sports can be found at