Joey Impagliazzo

In the July 2018 Spotlight column, we introduced Citlalli Ramirez, Kennett High School’s winner of the  “Be the Change” KAD scholarship award. This month’s spotlight focus is on the Unionville High School winner, Joey Impagliazzo.

In their essays, students were required to recount what they had done to make a difference in their communities. Joey related the heart-warming story about starting a local ice hockey program for students with special needs. He was initially motivated by seeing special needs students and their siblings being ridiculed and bullied in the school cafeteria. As a USA Hockey certified youth referee for five years and as a leader on Unionville’s ice hockey team, he knew that the special needs students had as much potential as students who had no physical or emotional disabilities. So, with the help of his father and his younger sister Mia, he started the hockey program. “I couldn’t have done it without their help,” he says. The students, ranging in ages from 7 to14, meet every Sunday, September through March. Boys and girls are equally represented on the team.

One special needs player, in particular, has been a true inspiration to Joey. This young person who has ROHHAD syndrome and autism is the team’s most enthusiastic player, bringing spontaneity and laughter to each session, despite any medical setbacks. “ He brightens every Sunday, “ Joey says.

In September, Joey will leave Pennsylvania to attend the University of Rhode Island. He will major in Chemical Engineering, and, after graduation, he plans to specialize in pharmaceutical cancer research.   Of course, he’ll continue playing ice hockey. It’s a game that inspired him to make a difference in the lives of some very deserving young people in Unionville.

~Brenda Mercomes