Socks, Hockey, & Celebrating Life

Darn Tough Socks against the glass of a hockey rink in front of a zamboni

You are who you are. You are not defined by your diagnosis! You are defined by your actions and behavior.

That core belief makes Christian a good friend and a caring person who just might LOVE music and hockey, especially Norwich Women’s and Men’s Hockey.

Norwich Hockey’s Biggest Fan

Norwich University Jackman Hall

Why Norwich? Because the university has always been a leader in excellence, on the cadet side, but also on the civilian side. Inclusion is a core belief of the school. Christian feels it, and he is very very proud to be a huge Norwich hockey fan.

Enter, Darn Tough, a sock manufacturer. It might sound like an odd combination, but Darn Tough has partnered with the Norwich Men’s Hockey program for an event that has become Christian's favorite hockey game: The Darn Tough Sock Toss

What Is a Sock Toss?

Darn Tough socks scattered all over the ice hockey rink

To some, it’s a gimmick. To others, it’s something fun and different to do. But to some it will mean the difference between having warm feet or not. And to Christian, it is really special.

For Christian, it is something to look forward to for weeks. Yes, he thinks it is fun to throw the socks, but it's more than that. Darn Tough has made a commitment to help the less fortunate by donating 1,500-2,000 pair of their socks for this one occasion.

As you enter the University Hockey Rink on the Darn Tough Sock Toss night, everyone gets a packaged pair of socks. Then, after the Cadets score their first goal of the game, everyone tosses the socks onto the ice. The team, with the help of volunteers, collects all the socks, which are then delivered in the coming weeks to local homeless shelters.

The Power to Make Life Fun

Another image of Norwich Hockey fans throwing socks on the ice

It is not that Christian has had cold feet, but he knows what it is like to be on the “short end" of the stick.  He was born with Mowat-Wilson Syndrome, an ultra-rare (fewer than 1,000 diagnoses worldwide) genetic disorder which can affect many organs.

As part of the syndrome, he has a severe seizure disorder, profound 90-degree scoliosis, chronic pain, and is intellectually disabled. We have done our best as his family to provide him with the best possible life and opportunities that we can.

Those opportunities include things like allowing him to be part of groups and events that help him feel special. Events like the Darn Tough Sock Toss.

We saw a meme online a few years ago that pretty much sums it up:

"As special needs parents, we don't have the power to make life fair, but we do have the power to make life fun."

Young boy handing out Darn Tough Socks to Norwich Fans

That is our mission. It is in large part because of this internal mission that we have season tickets to the Norwich Men's & Women's Hockey programs, The VT Mountaineers Baseball team, and The Central VT Pioneer sled hockey team (a team that Christian is a member of and a team which he plays for). We have become friends with bands over the years, bands that have a special place in Christian's and our hearts, 1964 The Tribute, Foreigner's Journey, and Air Supply.

And now, Darn Tough. Yes, something like socks. I think it has less to do with the actual product and more to do with the mission behind the company. In 2023 the world has become so "me oriented;" Darn Tough is a breath of fresh air showing that it does not have to be that way.

Celebrate Life; Celebrate You

Christian holding up a Darn Tough Sock

Maybe what the world needs is more "Christians" and more "Darn Toughs." People who celebrate you for being you. People who celebrate life because they know what it feels like not to. People who are happy just because.

Thank you, Darn Tough for helping make a difference!

About the Author

John and Wendy Sell are the parents of two incredible young men: Christian and his younger brother Justin. As their parents, it might seem self-serving to describe them as such, but anyone who knows them either together or as individuals will surely agree. The Sells have made their home in Barre Town since the late 80’s. Wendy works at Barre Town Elementary School and John at Central VT Medical Center.

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