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Rochester

Special Hockey Friendship Tournament Makes a Difference for Players

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Rochester: Special Hockey Friendship Tournament Makes a Difference for Players
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A very unique hockey tournament brought dozens to the Bill Gray's Regional Iceplex this weekend.

The tournament wasn't about winning or losing, but about changing lives.

"It's very emotional because you want them to do this," said Tammy Wallace.

Watching her teenage son Kyle play hockey is something Wallace never thought she'd see.

"He's excelled. This is his second year and he's having a great time," she said.

Kyle is blind.

"He feels like he belongs to a team which is what he always wanted," said Wallace.

He's just one of the dozens of players with developmental disabilities that competed in the Special Hockey Friendship Tournament this weekend. This is the eighth year for the tournament. This year it brought in ten teams from New York state, Boston, Massachusetts and Canada.

"It's not competitive. It's more of.. it's fun," said hockey player Colby Mager.

For parents, it's the fun that creates the memories.

"Some of them aren't just children. Some are adults and they get their first goal," said hockey parent Diane Kay. "Parents and grandparents are sitting in the stands and they are in tears. It's amazing, just amazing."

"It's what sports should be about actually," said hockey parent Ken Kay.

Carol Vanyo's son Ryan is 35. They traveled from St. Catherine's, Ontario to be here.

"It just gave him that 'Now I got my own jersey with my own name on it, not my brother's,'" said Carol.

"I enjoy the team. The teamwork. Work extra hard," said Ryan Vanyo.

Teamwork that's not about tallying up the scores.

"It's about friendships that are created on the ice. Teaching them to be good sportsman," said tournament organizer Sal Tuttobene.

Sportsman of a game where everyone leaves a winner.

"The thing that I hope they walk away with is one thing. It's a smile," said Tuttobene.

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