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Growing sled hockey in the Keweenaw

November 6, 2023 | By Emilie Jacques

Copper Shores grant helps Equipment Loans of the Keweenaw increase opportunities

Whether watching or playing, hockey is one of the most popular pastimes in Michigan’s Copper Country. One group is making marks on the ice in a big way by bringing a whole new audience of people to the sport. Equipment Loans of the Keweenaw (ELK) has brought sled hockey to the area for all to enjoy, especially for those with physical disabilities.

ELK is a volunteer-led organization of community members, health professionals and parents alike who have an interest in adaptive sports. Access to adaptive recreational equipment is currently limited, if available at all. ELK has made it part of its mission to bring adaptive sports equipment to the Copper Country and raise awareness by offering events open to people with and without disabilities.

“One of the things that I know is that being in a wheelchair and trying to get around in the winter is really hard,” ELK’s Fundraising Coordinator / Executive Board Member Jen Shaud said. “I can get on this ice and with very little effort go so quickly and so easily.”

Sled hockey uses specialized sleds that glide across the ice with blades similar to that of ice skates. The sled hockey team has served as a great opportunity for community members to get together, practice something new, and create exposure for adaptive sports and their benefits to society. Community members with disabilities have loved the opportunity to enjoy the Copper Country’s favorite pastime, just like everyone else.

“I played hockey, even in my older age, with my boys, until I got handicapped a few years back, so I can’t skate anymore,” ELK Sled Hockey Coach Steven Hillstrom said. “This has been fantastic, a nice outlet for me to get on the ice again.”

Though Equipment Loans of the Keweenaw had previously ran practice for sled hockey with borrowed sleds, a grant they received from Copper Shores Community Health Foundation has allowed them to purchase their own sleds. The 2023 Community Recreation and Facilities Grant from Copper Shores also covered the cost of additional equipment like sticks, gloves and helmets for an entire team.

Try Sled Hockey on November 11

On Saturday, November 11 ELK is working with Michigan Tech Recreation and Northern Michigan University's Sled Cats to host a free sled hockey clinic. The event will be at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena on Michigan Tech's campus. It will start at noon and is open to the entire community - including those without disabilities. Preregistration is not required, but it is suggested. Register online now through Eventbrite

Support Equipment Loans of the Keweenaw

Equipment Loans of the Keweenaw is a durable medical equipment loaner closet serving children in Houghton, Keweenaw and Baraga counties. They have a supply of wheelchairs, gait trainers and positioning equipment to help maximize the independence and health of community members. They also provide adaptive recreational and sports equipment for loan to those of any age, in any county of the Upper Peninsula. 

  • Visit ELK Website
  • Follow ELK on Facebook
  • Bid on Silent Auction Items (open until November 11 at 4:30 p.m.)
    • Raffle items include a mountain bike, artwork, gift cards to Dairy Queen, Cafe L'Anse and more, a four-hour fishing adventure, two-night stay at Keweenaw Castle and much, much more! 
  • Buy a 50/50 Raffle Ticket for Drawing on November 11
    • Tickets available through Jen Shaud, Mike Datto, Kay Waite, Karyn Juntunen or at the event on November 11
  • Donate cash or check to CCISD-ELK at their event on November 11

About Copper Shores

Copper Shores Community Health Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization serving Michigan’s Copper Country, which includes Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties. Our mission is to positively influence a more healthful community through enhanced philanthropy and collaboration. To learn about upcoming grant opportunities and other happenings with the Copper Shores Community Health Foundation, subscribe to our free monthly email newsletter.

Emilie Jacques

Emilie Jacques

"I graduated from Michigan Tech with a B.S. in Psychology, a minor in Communication Studies, and a minor in Media Production. I love the outdoors and DnD." You can reach Emilie at