Pictured: The NHL Network presents Lera Doederlein with a custom hockey sled and a $2,000 check from the Challenged Athletes Foundation for additional equipment. Photo courtesy of NHL Network/CCUSD
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Sonoran Trails Middle School student receives grant, new custom hockey sled on NHL Network


CAVE CREEK – Lera Doederlein, an eighth-grade student at Sonoran Trails Middle School was presented with a $2,000 check from the Challenged Athletes Foundation and a new, custom hockey sled while appearing on the NHL Network in February for the segment "Hockey is For Everyone," in February.

"You're even more of a superstar than I thought you would be," said NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes.

In June, Lera, who was adopted from Russia had bilateral knee disarticulation surgery to address a congenital condition called arthrogryposis.  Before the surgery she was able to walk with the aid of braces, but did not believe that would provide her with the level of mobility she craved. So, she elected to have the amputation surgery.

At the urging of one of her prosthetists, she tried sled hockey for the first time. 
"I've always been into sports and, after the surgery, I thought I would try sled hockey out.  It was great," Lera said.  "My Teammates are really encouraging, and I love that part of it."

She fell in love with the game and was borrowing a sled that was too big for her.
"I like to be out in front," she said, "I'm a playmaker." 

Lera wears the number 50 on her jersey and is a forward on the Phoenix Coyotes Sled Hockey Team.

"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 videotaped message, Lera was also  invited to an Arizona Coyotes game by defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who is her favorite player
One of her dreams is to play in the Paralympics in the future.  The sled and the grant for the purchase of additional equipment will help in many ways her father said.