By teaming up with local partners and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the city of Kyle is aiming to make a 10-year-old boy’s dream come true and build a public roller hockey rink in Kyle.
Ash Crane lives in Kyle and is described by his mother, Lisa, as a happy, easygoing and generous 10-year-old. Ash’s favorite thing to do is to play hockey. Growing up in Colorado, he had plenty of opportunities to surround himself with the sport.
Before Ash was born, Lisa and her husband, Stephen, learned he would have a congenital heart defect called hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which affects the flow of blood. Since he was born, Ash has undergone three open heart surgeries. After one of them, Lisa said he asked nurses if he could roller skate around the hospital instead of walk.
“Hockey is all he wants to do, all the time,” Lisa said.
As Ash grew and began to have trouble with his oxygen levels as a result of his condition, Lisa and Stephen made the difficult decision to move from Colorado to Texas, where the lower altitudes make it easier for Ash to breathe.
Unfortunately for Ash, hockey is not as popular with Texans. He misses having easy access to roller rinks. With the help from the city of Kyle, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and local residents, he may have a nearby rink in less than a year.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a nonprofit that arranges “wishes” for children facing critical illnesses, said Kathrin Brewer, the President and CEO of Make-A-Wish Central and South Texas.
When Make-A-Wish reached out to Kyle about Ash’s wish, City Manager Scott Sellers told them it was actually similar to a project Kyle had budgeted for that year. The city had planned on building a multi-use covered pavilion for community events and recreation, preferably at Gregg-Clarke Park.
“As the conversation evolved, it looked like we would very well pull this off,” Sellers said.
The city and Make-A-Wish decided to go all-in on the project together.
“It’s really collaborative project, not just us or them,” Brewer said. “We like when the community gets together to make it happen, especially when it’s a pay-it-forward project like this, where the community will benefit.”
The original pavilion project had about $225,000 earmarked toward it, Sellers said. An early engineer estimate has the cost for a roller hockey rink, complete with nets, scoreboards and other multi-purpose enhancements is about $385,000. With Make-A-Wish pledging $10,000, the city recruited local businesses and residents to help make up the difference with donations.
After just three weeks of looking for both cash and work donations, the city is only about $13,000 from its fundraising goal. Sellers called it a “fantastic” example of what the community can achieve when it works together.
With the speed at which the city has raised money, Sellers said the project could begin in the next few months and wrap up construction as early as the end of this year or early 2019.
“Moving to Texas was a big deal for us. It was a hard move,” Lisa said. “Texans have been so generous and so giving and we’re amazed that the city would put money toward making Ash’s wish come true. We feel humbled and blessed that they’re trying to make it happen.”
Ash said hockey is fast-moving, fun and makes him forget about his heart condition. He said he wants everyone to be able to play.