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Three-Year-Old's Hockey Dream Comes True

3:44 PM, Sep 5, 2012   |    comments
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Ryder Kopacz

BUFFALO, NY - A three-year-old hockey buff can now skate like his favorite players thanks to a very generous donation from a complete stranger.

We first introduced Ryder to our viewers back in February, shortly after his mom, Mindy, posted a video on YouTube.  

She wanted to share her son's story in the hopes someone could help him follow his passion.  Ryder's parents also wanted to start an organization that could help other children just like him.

His right leg stopped growing in utero, and his parents made the difficult decision to have his lower leg amputated when he was just one year old.

Despite the physical challenge, Ryder excelled at hockey.  However, skating was difficult because his leg would twist on the ice.

Someone, who wished to remain anonymous, saw the story and contacted the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.  That stranger paid for a trip to the Windy City and two prosthetic legs that costs thousands of dollars each.

One leg is waterproof so Ryder can now swim or shower while wearing his prosthetic.  The other is a specialized hockey leg so Ryder can skate more easily.

Ryder's parents also started a foundation called Unlimbited.  Their hope is to raise money to help provide prosthetic limbs to other children or possibly start a limb bank, where prosthetics can be shared with children who need them.

Ryder has also become buddies with Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta.  Members of Kaleta's H.I.T.S foundation, which stands for helping individuals to smile, saw the original story on Channel 2 and reached out to his family.

Ryder got to meet Kaleta and recently skated with other members of the Buffalo Sabres.

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