Sonoran Trails student receives grant, custom hockey sled

Lera Doederlein a Sonoran Trails Middle School eighth grade student, receives a $2,000 grant for a new, custom-made hockey sled from Challenged Athletes Foundation. (Submitted photo)

Lera Doederlein, a Sonoran Trails Middle School eighth grade student, received a $2,000 grant for a new, custom-made hockey sled from Challenged Athletes Foundation.

The San Diego-based charity provides opportunities and support to people with physical challenges, according to a press release.

In a videotaped message, Lera was recently invited to an Arizona Coyotes game by her favorite player, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

While appearing on the NHL Network segment to talk about Hockey Is For Everyone, celebrated through February, she was presented with a check and new, custom-made hockey sled.

“You’re even more of a superstar than I thought you would be,” said NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes in the press release.

In June, Lera had bilateral knee disarticulation surgery to address a congenital condition called arthrogryposis. After one of her prosthetists recommended she try sled hockey for the first time, she fell in love with the game and borrowed a sled that was too big for her, the release said.

“I’ve always been into sports and, after the surgery, I thought I would try sled hockey out. It was great,” Lera said in a prepared statement. “My teammates are really encouraging and I love that part of it.”

Lera was adopted from an orphanage in Russia as a baby. She has been able to walk with the aid of braces, the release detailed, adding that she did not believe braces would provide her with the level of mobility she craved entering her teen years. She elected to have the amputation surgery.

The release said that she wears No. 50 and is a forward on the Phoenix Coyotes Sled Hockey Team. One of her dreams is to play in the Paralympics in the future so the sled and grant to purchase additional equipment helps in many ways.

“I like to be out in front,” she said. “I’m a playmaker.”

“It’s the one place she feels she can move freely. It has helped her in her own ability to grow into and cope with this new phase of her life,” her father, David, said in a prepared statement.

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