PALMERSTON – Six-year old Mya Martin may be confined to a wheelchair, but that won’t stop her from being on the ice for an Oct. 21 puckdrop.
The eldest of Titus and Kristen Martin’s three children, Mya has a spina bifida, leaving her without the use of her legs.
Literally translating into “split spine,” spina bifida is a congenital defect in which protective tissue fails to form over the spinal cord.
“I’ve known them for a number of years,” Winston Shantz said of the Martins.
“Outside of a miracle, her condition is permanent,” he told the Advertiser recently.
Readers may recognize Shantz from a hockey tournament fundraiser last year for the Brubacher family and 12-year-old Trevor, who suffers from a rare disorder causing the tiny blood vessels in his kidneys to swell and bleed.
“When I started it (the hockey tournament) last year … my goal was from the start to make it an annual event,” Shantz said.
Now he’s hoping to raise money to help the Martins build a wheelchair-accessible home for Mya that includes an elevator.
There’s a hefty price tag for the home, and though Shantz doesn’t have a firm target, he would love to see $50,000 raised.
“My expectations were blown out of the water last year,” Shantz said of the $20,000 raised for a humble goal of $5,000.
“Anything we can do to help.”
This year’s tournament will resemble the last, with eight already chosen teams facing off at the Palmerston and District Community Centre Complex.
But instead of cramming it all into a Saturday, players will lace up and hit the ice at 7pm on Oct. 20. There will be four games played that Friday night, with the final game scheduled to start at 10pm.
The next morning, on Oct. 21, teams are back at it starting at 8am.
There will be two pools of four teams each, with the top two teams from each pool moving to the semi finals. Top teams from the semis will move onto the Saturday final, scheduled for 6pm.
Shantz told the Advertiser that spectator stands were packed last year, taking him by surprise.
“We had a lot of people come out last year,” he said. “It was a great turnout.”
With plenty of action on the ice, and game favourites such as burgers and pulled pork being served up, he’s hoping for much of the same this year.
“I hope that they can feel the support of the community and friends around them,” Shantz said of the Martins.
Last year, the community gave a standing ovation when the Brubachers participated in the ceremonial puck drop — undoubtedly the highlight of the day for Shantz, he said.
When the Martins are out on the rink for this year’s drop, Shantz hopes Mya will see people rallying around her and supporting her life’s journey.
“I hope the community can have a great uplifting day again this year,” he added.
Cash donations will be accepted at the tournament. Donations can also be e-transfered to firstname.lastname@example.org.