A dream come true for young Avalanche fans during the graduate weekend in Vail

Jordi Cox poses with John Michael Lills, an Avalanche alumnus who is now a resident of Vail.
Avalanche Alumni Weekend / Courtesy photo

Avalanche Alumni Weekend was not only a big weekend that raised money for youth hockey in Vail Valley, it also lifted the spirits of one hockey fan, Jordan Cox.

Jordan, or “Jordy”, as he is better known by family and friends, had the opportunity to experience learning a lot about the sport he loves from the players he admires. The graduates’ weekend brought several players, who dressed up night after night, to Dobson Arena in Vail. Clinics with Avs alumni took place during the day with the Vail Mountaineer Youth Hockey Club and although Jordy does not play for the Mountaineers, he received a special invitation.

John Weiss is the CEO of Small Champions, an organization that helps kids focus on their abilities, not their disabilities. Small Champions offers sports and entertainment programs for young people in Eagle County who have different physical and cognitive abilities. Weiss was contacted by one of Avalanche Alumni Weekend’s sponsors, Frontgate Avon.

Colorado alumni Avalanche and mascot Bernie welcome fans to their fundraiser weekend at Dobson Arena on September 10.
Avalanche Alumni Weekend / Courtesy photo

“In my first conversation with Frontgate Avon, when they outlined the generous show they were giving, it was immediately clear that Jordan and his family would be very well suited to take part in the Avalanche Alumni Alumni Weekend. Jordan is a hockey fan, is an Avs fan and plays in my league Hockey skates in Denver. It was perfect!” Weiss said.

A great opportunity was to bring Jordy on ice during the Youth Hockey Clinics hosted on September 10 at the Dobson Arena.

Jordan was born prematurely and was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at an early age affecting his limbs. He’s been with Small Champions for nine years and started skating at the age of five as a sit-down skater in a pair skate tied up by one of his skating coaches. In just two years, Jordan’s design and sophistication allowed him to break out of a standing skate duo skate with another piece of adaptive skating gear known as a slider. Jordan continues to skate with the slider and trainer.

“Jordan has been involved in many activities of the young champions in winter and summer over the past nine years by doing activities such as rock climbing, swimming, horse riding, mini golf, bungee jumping and many other activities. So, I knew he’d be ready for this,” Weiss said.

Jordi Cox was able to participate in all the skills clinics offered to young hockey players during the day of September 10th.
Avalanche Alumni Weekend / Courtesy photo

When Jordi’s family was contacted with an offer to have Jordi be a part of on-ice clinics, Jordi’s father, Jorma, said Jordi was excited at first, but then became a little anxious.

“We immediately accepted the offer from Frontgate Avon and were so grateful for the donation and the opportunity, but then Jordi went through a range of feelings and apprehensions,” Jorma said. “But then he recovered and got really excited about the ice part and had some friends and classmates who were in the clinics as well, so that helped.”

One of the Avalanche alumni who worked with Jordy was John-Michael Liles, who now resides in Vail Valley and is a board member of both the Avalanche Alumni Association and the Vail Mountaineer Hockey Club.

“Being able to share hockey experiences with all kinds of kids is a special thing each of our alumni have to do and sharing ice with Jordi during skill clinics, put a smile on our faces,” Lyles said.

Jordi Cox smiles as he interacts with the Avalanche Alumni players at the Dobson Arena.
Avalanche Alumni Weekend / Courtesy photo

This wasn’t Jordi’s first time on the ice. He participates in the program and team of Colorado Slide Hockey in Denver. But Jordi was smiling when he got started with Avs Alumni Al Conroy, with whom he skated, rehearsed at every stop and was evenly included in all the drills and brawls.

“He even got a good shot on goal!” Jorma said. “John Michael Lyles gave him a great pass that just missed the net. For Jordan to be in this position and play his favorite sport with some of these legends, he will never forget it. The USA Hockey/NHL #hockeyisforeveryone mantra and campaign was real. He was in cloud nine!”

The anxiety Jodi had earlier went away especially when he had to give a lecture in the locker room.

“He was a little anxious about speaking in the dressing room, but after skating with so many Avs players, he was very happy to have the opportunity to talk to them and share his story,” Jorma said.

“Jordy already has an amazing love of hockey, which was very clear in his pre-game speech to our alumni, and we hope that his interactions with our players will help that love to grow even more,” Lyles said.

Jordy’s parents credit him with being able to rise to these opportunities due to the growth and skills he learned at Small Champions.

“Our son is growing with a lot of confidence, ability and insight. He has shared many experiences with others and taught many people about his disabilities as well as others,” Jorma said.

“Jordan is truly a little hero in his own right, raising the bar for our families, peers, and knowledge of the meaning of disability.”

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