Fresno Winter Classic benifits adaptive sports program

January 1, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A first of its kind tournament brought hockey players of all ages to Downtown Fresno. Proceeds from the event will go to the Adaptive Sports Program at Children's Hospital.

More than 60 hockey players participated in the 2013 Winter Classic at Selland Arena. "We had such a big turnout I was having trouble finding spots for all the players who wanted to play," said Dr. Adam Gorra, a pediatric surgeon who organized the tournament.

The athletes in the program also had a chance to play during the event using special sleds. Liam Niewohner has severe arthritis that keeps him from other sports. His relationship with Children's Hospital goes back all of his 13 years. At birth, he weighed just over two pounds. "If it wasn't for them, I don't think I'd be here right now, able to do this. So I really feel grateful for them. So I love the idea of this," said Niewohner.

Dr. Gorra said getting athletes to participate in the tournament was easy. Not only did it benefit children, but it also gave participants the chance to play at Selland Arena.

Many of the players normally skate for fun at Gateway Ice Center. Some are currently Monsters and others were Fresno Junior Falcons in their younger days. "Looking up and seeing the hundred people watching you skate, it brings back memories," said David Garcia.