Number of Participants: 1
Hours Donated: 30
Value of Time Served: $254
Event Type: Disabled
Sport: Boys Ice Hockey
Date: June 23, 2023
Locust Valley, NY
Not every person has what it takes to help others. It requires a certain type of character to give up one’s own time and energy. Brody Ort, a rising junior at Portledge School in Locust Valley, has that character in spades, having spent the last 10 years doing volunteer work with physically and mentally handicapped people, helping them to play his favorite sport, sled hockey.
A version of the sport designed for people with a wide range of disabilities, sled hockey is played on sleds where the athletes sit upright and using two small sticks held in each hand control the puck, which provides balance and to some extent aids them in moving around on the rink.
Ort, who lives in Upper Brookville, first got involved with the Long Island Sled Hockey Team, known as the Rough Riders, when he was 7. His older brother Nolan was volunteering with them as a sled pusher, providing momentum to the players during game. For the next three years Brody helped at events and fundraisers, doing his part to support the players.
“We’re a big hockey family, and my wonderful mother thought it would be a good idea for (Nolan) to start helping the community,” Ort explained. “So he looks for what he likes, which is hockey, and he found the Rough Riders.”
The Rough Riders were founded in 2003 to provide differently abled athletes of all walks of life a chance to play hockey together. The goal is to foster a sense of self-esteem and pride among the participants, as many of the players are juveniles and adolescents, although there are some adult players as well, who are often veterans or amputees.
Not only that, but Ort began organizing his friends and fellow hockey players in exhibition games against the regular Rough Riders. Ort mentioned that every time he plays against them, he’s always astounded by their athleticism and skill.
“My favorite part is seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces as they’re witnessing pretty extraordinary athletes with disabilities and how incredible they are at their respective sport,” Ort continued. “It feels like what they can do on sleds is even more impressive than what I can do on my own skates, which is just incredible.”
Each year, starting at the beginning of the hockey season, Ort and his friends start a GoFundMe page for the organization, allowing time for the word to spread amongst his fellow Portledge students, friends and parents. Over the years they have raised various sums, most recently raising just under $5,000, although in the past they have raised as much as $20,000.
The fundraiser culminates each year with an exhibition match against the Rough Riders. Ort gathers his fellow hockey players, and even some friends who don’t play hockey when they need the numbers, and they suit up for sled hockey.
Ort describes the experience of playing against the Rough Riders as “humbling,” in part because he said he and his friends lose more often than not.
“It’s a lot of fun, but it’s actually a very humbling experience because we tend to lose very badly,” Ort jovially admitted. “It’s just such a great experience.”
Ort was honored for his years of service to the organization back in May by Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan, who presented him with a citation.
Frank Martin, president of the board of the Rough Riders, added that Ort’s efforts had been vital to the organization, and how astounded he’s been by “the young man’s level of commitment and generosity.”
“Brody has provided a real benefit to the disabled community on Long Island, on and off the ice,” Martin said. “His impact on the Rough Riders has been truly amazing.”