COLORADO SPRINGS — Though 14-year-old Ivy Goodwin lives with spina bifida, the birth defect does not define her.
Goodwin is a sled hockey player with big-time dreams.
"People ask me, you know, 'Do you want to be a Paralympian?' And I always say yes, cause that's my dream," Goodwin said.
That dream appeared to be taken from her earlier this week when thieves stole a trailer containing sled hockey equipment for Goodwin's Tigers sled hockey team, part of the Colorado Springs Amateur Hockey Association. The trailer was later found, but thieves stripped metal from the sleds and stole the team's helmets.
Just over a month before the season was set to start, thousands of dollars in equipment was suddenly gone, and the Tigers' season looked to be canceled.
"I was in shock, and I didn't beleive that anyone could ever do that. Like, how could you do that to somebody," Goodwin said.
But thanks to a donation from four local groups, the season is back on.
The story caught the attention of four major organizations: the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee, USA Hockey, Broadmoor World Arena and the Bob Greene Memorial Fund.
They chipped in a combined $20,000, so each of the Tigers sled players will now have gear. For context, the sleds range from $600-$700 a piece, while helmets, sticks, pads and more can tack on hundreds of dollars more.
The partners presented a check to the team on Friday. Doris Donley, adaptive coordinator for the youth hockey association, said the gesture was almost too much to bear.
"I am blown away by the support from all over the country, but particularly seeing it from our own community, my heart is bursting," Donley said.
USA Hockey Executive Director Pat Kelleher also spoke at the check presentation. Having volunteered for and been a parent to a Tigers sled hockey player, Kelleher said he knew firsthand the impact sled hockey can have on players and their families.
"To be able to impact our community and to see the smiles on those kids' faces that know they're going to be able to play sled hockey starting this season again, when theree days ago they thought their season might be over," Kelleher said. "It's great for USA Hockey. I think this is really what we're about."
Sled hockey also happens to be one of USA Hockey's most successful programs. Goodwin said the donation provides even more fuel for her paralympic dreams.
"I think all of us, knowing how much we mean to so many other big organizations, that's going to push us so much harder than any other year," Goodwin said.
After the presentation, the Tigers were treated to a tour of the Olympic Training Center including lunch.
The team will practice for the first time on Oct. 5. A GoFundMe page also raised more than $12,000 for the team.