LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Friday evenings, the south rink at Las Vegas Ice Center is sprawling with young, aspiring hockey players. Disguised by their gloves, skates, helmet and masks, it’s nearly impossible to comprehend the challenges many of the children overcome to take part.
“The parents look at us like we’re crazy,” said Kerry Quinney, creator of the non-profit Spectrum on Ice.
“Oh my gosh,” she continued, “They’re going to do that? But they come out and open up and come out of their shell.”
Each child involved in Spectrum has special needs. Some are non-verbal or on the autism spectrum.
Jasmine Horn’s 5-year-old son Carter has autism and loves learning to play.
“He has lots of energy,” said Horn, “It helps his core. It helps him make friends. Helps him with his speech.”
Quinney started the program in 2017. Now, more than 100 children are involved. Players with the Vegas Jr. Golden Knights and other local skating instructors donate their time to help.
For Quinney, a Clark County School District special education teacher and former skating instructor, the program is a way for the children to expand their horizons.
“For me, that’s the part that I love,” she said, “The self-assurance. The self-confidence. It’s a beautiful thing to see.”
Quinney is a recipent of 8 News Now’s Acts of Kindness award.