The University of Denver hockey program welcomed a special new member to the Pioneer family in November as 14-year-old Adam Encrapera was signed to a ceremonial letter of intent. Adam is an honorary member of the team for the 2013–14 season.
“The hockey program is very excited that Adam signed a letter of intent,” said head coach Jim Montgomery. “We are really excited to have Adam help out with what we are trying to accomplish, on and off the ice. It is very special to have him become a part of the Pioneer family and the tradition of Denver hockey.”
Encrapera, a native of Highlands Ranch, Colo., has Alstrom syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects every organ in the body with the exception of the brain.
“It means more than I can put into words,” Adam’s mother, Susan Encrapera, said of Adam’s experience with the hockey team, which included attending a recent game against Air Force, where he took part in many of the team’s pregame activities and rooted for his new teammates. “For instance, yesterday he spent half the day in the emergency room, so every day is a challenge. When you can balance it with something that can give him hope, it encourages him and makes him feel like part of something. It helps him get through rough times.”
Pioneer freshman Wade Bennett worked closely with Team IMPACT to get Adam involved with the Denver hockey program. The nonprofit organization aims to improve the quality of life for children facing life-threatening illnesses by matching them with college athletic teams.
“For me it presented an amazing opportunity for our team to be involved with Team IMPACT and have a relationship with Adam, as well as a positive impact on his life,” Bennett says. “Adam will get the experience of being on a college hockey team, and it is really special for him to have that dream realized.”