Seriously injured grad joins former Quaker Valley hockey teammates in celebration
The Quaker Valley hockey community came together for its annual alumni game Sunday night at the Airport Ice Arena, but the event took on a different feeling this year thanks to a very special guest.
In addition to being a celebration of the hockey program, the alumni game served as a fundraiser for 2012 Quaker Valley graduate Kevin Kenny, who suffered a spinal cord injury last month while playing for the Pittsburgh Vengeance.
After receiving the go-ahead from his doctors, Kenny was in attendance Sunday night to see a Quaker Valley banner raised to the rafters of the arena where the Quakers have enjoyed so many memorable moments over the years.
“In the past, we've not had the ability to celebrate the many successes we've had,” said the alumni association's Carolyn Bouchard of the newly erected banner. “Now we can add to it every year.”
It was fitting that Kenny, a member of Quaker Valley's 2012 Penguins Cup championship team, was in attendance to see the team's banner raised.
The QV alumni association raised more than $8,000 during Sunday's event, all of which will go toward making the Kenny's home wheelchair accessible.
“We wanted to do something to help the Kenny family,” Bouchard said. “We can't cover all of (the costs), but we can at least contribute.”
In addition to in the installation of ramps, the family's home will be outfitted with an elevator to allow Kenny to get to his third-floor bedroom. At this point, he's likely to be discharged from Mercy Hospital in mid-January.
Much of the money raised Sunday night was done through donations for Golden Laces, a program founded in 2006 by the father of a youth soccer player. It was his hope that wearing the Golden Laces would inspire players with the motivation and confidence to succeed — even on days when they're not necessarily performing at their best.
Every player in the alumni game wore the Golden Laces on the ice, and afterwards the laces were autographed and given to donors who donated $100 or more to the Kevin Kenny Fund.
Along with the banner raising and alumni game, the evening featured scrimmages from Quaker Valley's developmental and bantam programs as well as a scrimmage between the Quakers' junior varsity and varsity squads.
While the players were able to showcase their many skills on the ice, Kenny's appearance at the rink was the highlight of the night.
Kenny's rehabilitation has been progressing well in recent weeks. After being removed from the ventilator when he was able breathe on his own, the doctors discovered he had a paralyzed vocal cord that was hampering his ability to swallow.
Like the other challenges he's faced in recent weeks, Kenny overcame the vocal cord issue and is now able to eat and drink normally.
Kenny, who had no feeling from the waist down after the injury, has been moving his arms and working on regaining dexterity in his fingers during his rehab sessions.
“He's such an inspiration,” said Bouchard, whose son, Clayton, played with Kenny at Quaker Valley. “He's got a great attitude. He's able to smile and laugh.
“I can't imagine how he does it.”
Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.