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AHL Team Helps Blind Super Fan See Games For The First Time

This is Katrina King. Katrina has been a die hard super fan of the American Hockey League’s Springfield Thunderbirds for about 15 years now. Katrina is also legally blind and suffers from cerebral palsy which she has been battling since the day she was born. The 23-year-old lives and breathes Thunderbirds hockey, ever since her first game where the Zamboni got stuck on the ice and the arena did everything they could to keep fans from leaving, playing music, funny give aways, the whole nine yards. This is when Katrina fell in love. All it took was one game, a game that she could not even see, where the Zamboni broke in between periods, and she was hooked. Talk about a true hockey fan.

Katrina and her father Rick have been going to Thunderbirds games for around 15 years and with Katrina being legally blind, she isn’t able to watch the games in person. She listens, takes in the environment, while her father records the game on a camera. The two then go home and blow the game up on a screen that she is able to see, and she rewatches the game. Listens to the game, then re watches the game. My god. I wish I liked hockey that much. What a true fan.

Katrina and her father had the opportunity to meet Ed Wittchow, a Thunderbirds defenseman, one day in the parking garage, then a few months later they would meet again in the team offices. Ed and Katrina began to grow close, talking hockey, dogs and everything under the sun. So Ed steps up to the plate and hits a home run and decides he wants to help. He wants to help her see the games she so passionately watches.

Ed did just that, asking around on how they could get some glasses for Katrina to see. After getting some prototypes and letting Katrina test them out, the team invited her to the rink for a practice where she thought she would be testing another pair. Mind you, these glasses are really expensive, and the King family only thought they would be able to rent a pair due to the high prices. But Wittchow saves the day, getting the Antonanacci Foundation to step up and pay the 10k bill for the glasses.

Katrina can now watch games, with the glasses on, live in person, to see the team she loves so much. “They made me a part of them” Katrina told Masslive.com.

When the horrible Humboldt tragedy happened just a few weeks back, It reminded us how lucky we are to play such a beautiful game. Today, Katrina has reminded us how lucky we are to even watch this beautiful game and how lucky we are that we get to experience things like hockey games and the atmosphere that comes with it. Katrina has been going to games for 15 years when she couldn’t even see the action happening on the ice. She is there because of her true love for the game and for the Thunderbirds.

“We take so much for granted. And for Katrina to see something for the first time? You just don’t realize how lucky we are to have our sight and the things we have in life. It’s a simple thing that she gets so excited for. It just amazes me that she doesn’t see that. So this is now going to bring more amazement. I can’t wait to take her for her first car ride on the glasses.” Katrina’s father told Masslive.com.

The little things…