ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Kaden Funk returned home from St. Louis this past weekend after competing in the USA Hockey Disabled Festival. 137 teams competed over the weekend between the blind, deaf and special teams.
Kaden has autism and plays for the Chicago Blackhawks Special Hockey Team. They split up his team into three this weekend because they have so many kids. Each team played two games on Friday and one on Saturday. They won two out of the three games to earn a championship medal.
The special hockey team consists of kids with autism, down syndrome, and other intellectual disabilities. USA Hockey put on a show for the kids.
“It was cool that they won, and they got their medal and a big banner,” said Jamey Funk over the phone. Jamey is Kaden’s father and hockey coach.
He brought it to school on Tuesday for all of his classmates to see.
“For Kaden it was exciting, a lot of kids didn’t take their medals off until the next day, they earned it, it’s cool,” said Jamey.
Kayden normally plays goalie, but he skated out over the weekend because their other goalie was in the net.
“It’s a once in a lifetime thing, it’s really kind of neat to see the teamwork, they try so hard and they are a heck of some little athletes.” said Jamey. “As a coach, you were proud of them. You see them making friends, and that’s even more huge.”
Getting to spend a weekend surrounded by kids who are ‘just like you’ is special for a kid like Kaden.
“They made lifetime friends doing it, seeing the kids in the locker room before singing, chanting, hyped up and happy, that was awesome.”