Hero Central: Help A Little Sabres Fan Fulfill His Hockey Dream

1:20 AM, Mar 2, 2012   |    comments
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BUFFALO, N.Y. - You'd be hard pressed to find a more energetic, more enthusiastic Sabres fan than three-year-old Ryder.

His favorite player is Nathan Gerbe.  Ryder will tell you he's #42.  He knows all of the Sabres and their jersey numbers.  He announces the team in a voice that rivals any hockey announcer.

Ryder's passion for hockey started young.  At age one, he was already moving across the floor, playing with his mini hockey sticks and, according to his dad, making noises as if he wanted to announce himself on the ice.

It was at that same age, Ryder's parents, Ted and Mindy Kopacz, had to make the difficult decision to have his lower, right leg amputated.

Ryder was born with a condition in which his leg stopped growing in utero.

If not for the surgery, Ryder would likely have been wheelchair bound.

Ryder has done an amazing job adapting with his prosthetic.  He can walk and run, but he isn't really able to play his favorite sport or swim.

Insurance only covers the basic prosthetic leg, and specialized limbs for sports and other activities can run anywhere between $6,000 and $10,000.  Because kids are constantly growing, a child may need two to three different limbs each year.

Ryder's parents are in the beginning stages of starting a group that would allow children with limb deficiencies to share prosthetics or re-use parts.

Ryder's mom put together a video to thank the Buffalo Sabres for using his image at the First Niagara Center but also to share his story and talk about his need for a special prosthetic to play the sport he loves.

If you or someone you know would like to help Ryder get the prosthetic he needs to fulfill his dream of skating or would like to help his parents in their goal of starting up the foundation to help other kids with limb deficiencies, send us an email by clicking here.

2 On Your Side will pass along your emails and contact information to Ryder's family.

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