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United Cerebral Palsy Skate Without Limits Fundraiser

Each March, this effort in Hazel Park to help kids features the Michigan Sled Dogs, UCP Pucksters and Detroit Red Wings Alum – and loads of family fun

Holden Cassavoy, 11, won't mind facing off against his mom, Niki, on March 30, 2013 at Viking Arena in Hazel Park. In his three years with the annual United Cerebral Palsy Skate Without Limits fundraiser, he knows mom's no ice-hockey pushover.

"She is pretty tough when she wants to be," Holden says.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Holden was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 11 months. Now, he plays hockey and baseball and even skis because his Waterford family never told him he couldn't. "He's an inspiration," Niki says. "I'm proud to get out there to support my boy."

Focused on helping special needs

Holden has forearm crutches to get around; a wheelchair for long distances. On ice, he uses an adaptive sled to play for the Michigan Sled Dogs. They're featured in a Skate Without Limits 4 p.m. exposition game, followed by the 6 p.m. UCP Pucksters against Detroit Red Wings Alumni.

This event is UCP's largest local fundraiser. In 13 years, it has raised more than $200,000.

All proceeds help people with disabilities. The Detroit Red Wings Alumni Association plays 30 games a year to benefit worthy charities.

"Families love the event because they are close to the players and can come out on the ice to toss a puck to win Red Wing tickets," says Mike Ward, UCP board member and event organizer. "They also get to see a form of hockey played by individuals with disabilities. It's inspiring for parents and kids alike."

Details for the big day

While the final roster is solidified game week, the 2013 alumni will include fan faves like John Ogrodnick, Lee Norwood and Mickey Redmond.

Playing for the Pucksters are three female players – Michelle Harmala, Emilia Ward and Chelsea Michalak – along with Mike Ward, Joey Mannino Jr, Keith Starr, Pierre Fuger, Tim Gorton, Nick Ostrowski, Steve Howcroft, Frank Svincek Mike Harrison, Brett Miller, Joe Sattler and Rick Ryan.

"What I love most about playing in the sled hockey game is being so close to these amazing athletes," says Craig Duncan, a former UCP board member who comes from Chicago to play. "On the ice and on the sled, there are no disabilities. You just know you are getting whipped by hockey players with far superior talent."

Young Holden agrees: "I can't wait for the game. It's cool to see who comes. The Red Wings are all pretty nice."

Tickets are $10/person, $25/family pack (up to five), free/5 and under and $10/afterglow pizza party. Doors are at 3:30 p.m. There's a silent auction, too. To learn more, check out the Metro Parent listing for the 2013 Skate Without Limits fundraiser in Hazel Park.

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