by Robbie Vorhaus
Sag Harbor’s Ken Lasiuk was fond of saying; “I would find it easier retiring from my work at the United Nations, rather than deciding when to end playing ice hockey.”
In 2009, retiring from his job as an executive officer in the UN’s Office of Legal Affairs, Mr. Lasiuk thankfully didn’t have to make that choice.
Mr. Lasiuk, with wife, Carol, and Pierson senior, Emma, began a new life of leisure, playing ice hockey in full gear at New York’s Chelsea Piers, and during the winters, skating at East Hampton’s Buckskill Winter Club as an active member of The Hackers Ice Hockey Club, a local team started by Sag Harbor’s John Battle and Gigi Morris.
In April 2011, traveling with his family on college tours, Mr. Lasiuk began experiencing unexplained symptoms. After visiting neurologists, Mr. Lasiuk was diagnosed in June of 2011 with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a progressive neurodegenerative disease, leaving Mr. Lasiuk unable to walk, and certainly unable to play hockey. Until this past Saturday.
Specifically designed for players with disabilities, the Hackers conspired with Mr. Lasiuk’s family to secretly buy him a special ice sledge hockey sled and sticks, and partnered with Buckskill owner, Doug DeGroot, who swiftly installed a special ramp entrance to the ice skating rink.
Arriving to the Lasiuk’s home last Friday night, team members John Battle, David Reiner and Tom Morrissey, surprised Mr. Lasiuk with his new sled, taking him to Buckskill for a test-run.
“There was no way I wasn’t going with them,” Mr. Lasiuk said. “These guys picked me up and lifted me out of the house.”
Saturday’s sunrise was brilliant against a deep blue, cold sky, and at 9 o’clock, Mr. Lasiuk arrived ready to play hockey. Surrounded by Hacker team members, Mr. Lasiuk suited up, was carefully lifted into his new hockey sled, and with tears of joy, entered the ice to thunderous applause.
“I feel so lucky,” Mr. Lasiuk, explained. “I have no complaints. Carol and I are married 20 years, Emma’s going off to college, and I live in Sag Harbor surrounded by my family and friends. My Hackers teammates know my lifelong love of this game, and today they gifted me with one more shot at it. I’m a very happy man.”