Muscle Movement Fdn. | 2017-2018 National Champions

JERSEY SHORE WILDCATS BANTAM BLACK HOCKEY TEAM CLAIMS MMF CHARITY OF CHAMPIONS TITLE

NJ YOUTH HOCKEY TEAM DEDICATES SEASON TO #55

WALL TOWNSHIP, NJ - Coach Scott Harrington and the Jersey Shore Wildcats Bantam Black Hockey Team were thrilled to welcome a special teammate to the ice this past hockey season. The team joined the Muscle Movement Foundation's Charity of Champions campaign; a campaign that unites athletes across the country in the fight against neuromuscular disease. By way of the Muscle Movement Foundation (MMF), Harry Smith was signed to the Jersey Shore Wildcats Hockey Team! 

 Head Coach Scott Harrington presents Muscle Movement Fnd. Muscle Champion, Harry Smith, his very own Jersey Shore Wildcats hockey jersey! #55!

Head Coach Scott Harrington presents Muscle Movement Fnd. Muscle Champion, Harry Smith, his very own Jersey Shore Wildcats hockey jersey! #55!

A special bond was immediately formed between #55 Harry Smith, and his new teammates! Harry was welcomed at practices, games, team parties, and events! Harry proudly attended the ice hockey games and cheered along his fellow teammates, while they competed in honor of his fight against Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy (EDMD). EDMD is a form of muscular dystrophy that is characterized by muscle degeneration and weakness which primarily affects an individual's voluntary muscles. The disease commonly affects the individual's calves, shoulders, upper arms, and additionally may cause contractures (hardening of muscles or tissue) in the heels, back of the arms (elbows), and neck. EDMD also commonly displays heart problems. The disease is a genetic condition and may be inherited in an x-linked recessive pattern (from the mother), autosomal dominant pattern (from either parent), or autosomal recessive pattern (from both parents). Genetic research continues in attempt to develop a stronger understanding of the disease and discover effective therapies that may assist with the presence of muscle degeneration.

 Harry Smith when his team scores a goal!

Harry Smith when his team scores a goal!

 Harry Smith when the ref makes a bad call!

Harry Smith when the ref makes a bad call!

Unfortunately, Harry lost his ability to stand and walk this year. Due to the progressive degeneration of Harry's muscles, and after being denied insurance coverage for physical therapy, Harry's strength and mobility diminished. Additionally, Harry began to experience cardiac arrhythmias. The reality of EDMD truly started to show its ugly face; nonetheless, Harry's resiliency persevered. Every day Harry wakes up with a smile on his face and inspires people with his charm, big personality, and remarkable positive attitude! Harry and his family found hope in a service dog named Queenie. Although Queenie was not the biggest fan of ice hockey, she would stay by Harry's side while he cheered on his team! Harry's disease continued to progress throughout the season, and the Wildcats continued to play in his honor.

  Muscle Champion, Harry Smith, endures testing for his cardiac arrhythmia due to EDMD.

Muscle Champion, Harry Smith, endures testing for his cardiac arrhythmia due to EDMD.

  The unfortunate reality of disease impacts Harry, while his parents lovingly stay by his side every step of the way.

The unfortunate reality of disease impacts Harry, while his parents lovingly stay by his side every step of the way.

  Harry enjoys a NJ Wildcats game with Queenie by his side!

Harry enjoys a NJ Wildcats game with Queenie by his side!

Harry Smith invited Muscle Movement Foundation Founder, Rob DeMasi, and Vice President, Teresa Votta, to a game towards the end of the season. After an impressive performance, the ice hockey team embraced #55 Harry Smith on the ice after a team win! The team continued to excel on and off the ice in honor of their team captain, #55! The team advanced to the New Jersey Youth Hockey League (NJYHL) Championships this year. The Jersey Shore Wildcats played with the strength of #55 Harry Smith in their hearts! After a phenomenal season, the Wildcats finished the season exactly how they had planned; New Jersey Youth Hockey League Champions!

Winning the championship was special but the team was more concerned about the final score of an additional championship. The team competed in the Muscle Movement Foundation's National Charity of Champions campaign. The Wildcats relentlessly worked to raise awareness about neuromuscular disease in their local community, dedicate each game to #55, and encourage support by their loved ones to directly impact Harry Smith. By the end of the season, Coach Scott Harrington received the call from Muscle Movement Foundation Founder, Rob DeMasi. The Jersey Shore Wildcats were deemed 2017-2018 Muscle Movement Foundation National Champions and raised the most support for their Muscle Movement Foundation Muscle Champion! The campaign included over 100 athletes and over 20 teams from 10 states throughout the country. The Jersey Shore Wildcats Hockey Team raised an impressive $4,800 in honor of #55 Harry Smith!

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  Jersey Shore Wildcats' Josh Scheck, earned the 2017-2018 MMF National Athlete of the Year Award! This award is presented to a single scholar-athlete who raises the most support for their MMF, Muscle Champion. Over 100 athletes across the country competed for this award.

Jersey Shore Wildcats' Josh Scheck, earned the 2017-2018 MMF National Athlete of the Year Award! This award is presented to a single scholar-athlete who raises the most support for their MMF, Muscle Champion. Over 100 athletes across the country competed for this award.

Harry Smith and team were excited for their end of the year awards ceremony! Once again, #55 Harry Smith was sure to extend the invite to Muscle Movement Foundation Founder, Rob DeMasi! Rob traveled to Wall Township, NJ to enjoy delicious food, interact with the athletes, meet the Wildcat families, and learn about the life-changing memories created throughout the season. After fun games, delicious food, and a live ice hockey game on television, the Wildcat families and athletes gathered for the presentation. Gloria Smith, the mother of Harry Smith, addressed the team:

When you have a child, you have hopes and dreams for them, and it felt like everything got squashed. And it felt like life was over for me. And it felt like a new reality had to happen. To figure out how we could get by. And than this year came along and you guys all taught us a new life. You taught Harry how to be brave. Harry received an award in school for perseverance and bravery, and before that he was not that person. And that’s because of you guys...I want you all to know you have changed this child’s life for the rest of his life. You made him a brave child. You made him a strong child, even though he does not have physical strength...
— Gloria Smith

Gloria, mother of Harry Smith, addresses Harry’s ice hockey team!

By the power of a Muscle Movement Foundation team, Muscle Champion Harry Smith gained another network of support, made life-lasting memories, and was presented life-changing accommodations that have enhanced his quality of life. Following the season, #55 Harry Smith was approved to receive a power wheelchair. Just two days prior to receiving his power wheelchair, Muscle Movement Foundation Founder, Rob DeMasi, traveled to Wall Township, NJ to present Harry, Gloria, and his family a wheelchair accessible van. Thanks to Coach Scott Harrington and the Wildcats' initiative in joining the Muscle Movement Foundation's Charity of Champions program, Harry now has the autonomy every boy deserves!

  Muscle Movement Foundation Founder, Rob DeMasi, with Muscle Champion, Harry Smith, and his new wheelchair accessible automobile.

Muscle Movement Foundation Founder, Rob DeMasi, with Muscle Champion, Harry Smith, and his new wheelchair accessible automobile.

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Coach Scott Harrington was interviewed after the season. During the interview, he elaborated on his experience in having his team join the Muscle Movement Foundation. Here is his testimony:

Partnering with the Muscle Movement Foundation has been something that I have wanted for my players in all of my coaching career. It has allowed me the opportunity to show my players what it means to be humble and appreciate what they possess. The reality of the struggles that many kids go through on a daily basis is not always tangible - most wouldn’t understand unless presented to them. I wanted an experience like this to help them appreciate what they have and make them aware of the struggles of others. Making these players understand the impact they can create for less fortunate children and contribute in their own unique ways is such an incredible experience!

Harry was a true inspiration to all my players. They all made him feel as if he was a part of the team, day in and day out. Harry affected the team as well right from the beginning. There was one particular player on the team that was struggling with giving the amount of effort that I knew he was capable of. He just needed something to drive him. I pulled this player aside before one of the games and showed him a video of Harry just simply trying to walk. I told him, “Do you see how much of a struggle it is for him just to take a few steps? This isn’t a problem for you in the least bit, so there is no reason for you to not put your very very best effort on the ice every day! Do it in honor of Harry.” And honestly since that conversation it turned that player’s season around completely. Receptive to the message, this particular athlete, and my entire team, played with a different view this year.

In all of my coaching career, I have always tried to instill in my players being humble on and off the ice. Rob DeMasi and the Muscle Movement Foundation helped reinforce my philosophy with my players, whether they are at practice, in a game, at school, or just doing daily chores at home. The experience of having the Muscle Movement Foundation as a part of my team has supported my philosophy and helped the team with a very successful season.

Rob DeMasi is a true inspiration to many and I love the vision and passion he possesses. I want to try and spread his message as far as I can reach, and I know this is just the beginning of a great relationship.”
— -Coach Scott Harrington

Coach Scott Harrington has continued as an ambassador for the Muscle Movement Foundation and continues to spread the MMF message in the sport of ice hockey and in his local community. Coach Harrington has added an additional ice hockey team to the Muscle Movement Foundation's "Charity of Champions" program, and is excited for Muscle Champion, Harry Smith, to join a new team this year. Additionally, he has helped Harry find a new passion in life - sled hockey! MMF Muscle Champion, Harry Smith, will begin sled hockey this year! Sled hockey is a sport that allows individuals who have physical disabilities to play the game of ice hockey! Harry is very excited for this year! Furthermore, Coach Scott Harrington has extended the Muscle Movement Foundation's resources to another local individual who is living with neuromuscular disease. The new family is excited to join an ice hockey team this year, by way of the Muscle Movement Foundation!

The power of a team is strong! When this power is brought to the forefront of the lives of families affected by muscle disease, it provides life-changing strength. Congratulations and special thanks to Muscle Movement Foundation "Muscle Champion", Harry Smith, Harry's family, Coach Scott Harrington, and the families of the Jersey Shore Wildcats Hockey Team for demonstrating excellence; on and off the ice!

It takes a team effort to fight muscle disease. With the strength of your team, the MMF's families will live life stronger!

If you are interested in joining the Muscle Movement Foundation's 2018-2019 Charity of Champions Program, email info@musclemovementfoundation.org!

 

 

Questions/Press Release: info@musclemovementfoundation.org

 

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