Disney YouTuber Mr. Cheezy Pop One Of Best Audiobook Narrators For YA Books

Disney YouTuber Mr. Cheezy Pop One Of Best Audiobook Narrators For YA Books

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What do the Hockey Rivals Books, Disney, and the popular time travel show Timeless all have in common? Audiobook narrator, actor, and YouTuber Maxwell Glick, who I truly believe is one of the best audiobook narrators around for YA and kids’ books.

As I recently shared, the Audible audiobook edition of Offsides (Hockey Rivals Book #2) was released this spring. Maxwell narrated Face-Off (Hockey Rivals Book #1) several years ago, and I was thrilled that he returned for the sequel—with a little help from the TV show Timeless. Before we get into that, let me tell you a little bit about Maxwell, whose youthful voice is perfect in audiobooks about young people.

His channel “mrcheezypop” is a family friendly destination where he takes you on magical adventures in happiness. From tips and tricks at Disney Theme Parks, to trying the latest food and drink all over the world, to sharing his own life in Los Angeles, Maxwell brings a much needed dose of positivity to viewers. He’s also an award winning actor and voice actor starring in the Emmy Award winning The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, appearing on numerous TV shows such as The Office, Castle, The Mentalist, and Timeless, has recorded voice work for major companies like Nickelodeon and Hasbro, and has recorded over 100 audiobooks, winning multiple awards for his work. For more Max, check him out on Patreon at patreon.com/mrcheezypop, and of course YouTube at youtube.com/mrcheezypop.

The Timeless Connection

On New Year’s Day, I was thinking of doing an audiobook edition of my latest release Offsides, but I wasn’t sure it was the right time as I had several projects in the works. I hadn’t talked to Maxwell in a few years and wasn’t sure if he would be available. Like I said, he is one of the best audiobook narrators around for YA books, plus he has an extremely popular YouTube channel, so I knew he would have a busy schedule.

That morning, my husband and I were watching Timeless on the DVR. My husband had gotten me into the time travel series, (I wish it was still on!) and we were binge watching. After the latest episode, a name jumped out at me in the credits. Maxwell Glick! We went back and found Maxwell in a guest spot. He was in costume, so I hadn’t recognized him—although how I didn’t pick up on the voice of Brad and T.J. McKendrick from the Face-Off Audible book is beyond me since he had several lines in the show. When I listened to his dialogue again, it was so obvious.

Anyway, I took this concidence as a sign that I should contact him. I dashed off an email to Maxwell, and within a few days, we had decided to pursue the project through ACX. He did a fantastic job as I knew he would. It amazes me how he can make each character sound different. If you’re planning any long car trips this summer and need to keep your teens and tweens entertained, definitely consider the Hockey Rivals audiobook editions. Let’s read on to learn more about Max, but first here is a video about what it was like for him to appear on Timeless.

Disney Magic

Another coincidence is that Maxwell and I both love the Disney theme parks. I mean, seriously love them! Let’s start with me. I got engaged at Epcot on a bench near Norway. Before we met, my husband had been to Walt Disney World over 30 times. We went to Paris on our honeymoon, and we of course had to visit Disneyland Paris. Unfortunately, that little excursion didn’t go so well. They put some kind of sauce on my burger, and let’s just say it didn’t agree with me. I wound up sitting on a hill most of the day and threw up on the train ride back to the hotel. Despite that bad day, I continued to love theme parks. In fact, I write the Storybook Valley chick lit series set at a theme park. So far, it includes the romantic comedies Fooling Around With Cinderella and Prancing Around With Sleeping Beauty.

best Audible narrators

As you’ll see on his YouTube Channel, Maxwell visits Disney theme parks all the time. If you’re a Disney fan, you’ll love his videos! Unfortunately, we had one disagreement. He calls the Avatar Flight of Passage at Animal Kingdom “the single greatest attraction Disney has ever made.” I refer to it as “the ride from hell” since I developed a serious case of motion sickness on that ride, and so did my kids. While I agree that in theory, this 3D flight was impressive, I didn’t see much of it as I was squeezing my eyes shut and praying for it to be over before I vomited. It was like a flashback to the saucy burger in Paris when I was praying, Please don’t let me wind up in a French hospital for food poisoning. Below, you can see a video that Maxwell posted about the ride. He exited in awe from the amazing experience; when I went, I stumbled off in awe that I hadn’t hurled.

Luckily, our strong opinions about Avatar Flight of Passage didn’t get in the way of our audiobook production. I asked Maxwell how he got so interested in Disney, and this was his response: 

 

“My love of Disney started as a kid because we took many vacations to Walt Disney World. Once I moved to LA and was so close to Disneyland, my love of it grew even stronger. I started making videos about Disney because I wanted to share my happy place with the rest of the world! The most rewarding part of it is when kids and families come up to me in the parks and say ‘mrcheezypop!’  Seeing the people who watch me in person is really special for me.”
 

Interview With Maxwell

Maxwell and I also discovered another coincidence. Before he moved to LA to follow his dream of being an actor, he went to Boston College. Ironically, that’s the school where the fictional McKendrick brothers want to land a scholarship to play Division 1 hockey. BC is mentioned quite a bit in Offsides, and Maxwell says he had fun performing those scenes. Below is the rest of my interview with Maxwell.

Tell us about your TV roles and your Taco John’s commercial campaign.

Being on TV is really wonderful. You get to work with the best people in the business, and I’ve been lucky enough to share the screen with people like Steve Carrel, Nathan Fillion, and Simon Baker. The Office was one of those dream jobs for me since I was such a fan of the show before appearing on it. Taco John’s was a great job for me because it was an ongoing campaign and I got to do over five commercials, and many voiceovers for them. That was one of the best jobs I’ve had. I was fortunate to be cast on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries which is a modern vlog style version of Pride & Prejudice. I played Mr. Collins. The show became somewhat of a sensation and won an Emmy. One of the coolest moments of my career, for sure. You can see the show in its entirety on YouTube.

How did you catch the acting bug?

I’ve always been acting or singing for as long as I can remember. I was in all of the shows in school, and I knew there was nothing else I would want to do.

How does it feel to watch yourself on television?

Seeing myself on TV or hearing myself is actually a thrill for me. Getting to see the work you did with all of the elements put together, is quite exciting. I don’t think that will ever change for me, no matter how many shows I’m on!

You’ve narrated over 100 audiobooks. Do you have any favorites? (Besides the Hockey Rivals books, of course!)

I really enjoyed reading the Joshua Dread series and also recently recorded another wonderful middle grade book called Maxi’s Secret.

When you act in a play, a TV show or a film, you can use nonverbal communication, movement and props to enrich the performance. Do you have any tricks or techniques that you use to help your audiobook performances come alive?

To make audiobooks come alive, I really tend to become that character I’m portraying. I’m often very animated when I’m reading, and very expressive with my hands. I think that really helps and comes through in the performance.

What is your process for approaching an audiobook? Do you read the whole book first so you know what’s coming, or do you like to be surprised and just take it one chapter at a time?

Sometimes I read the whole book, other times I skim it. It really depends on my deadline. Always though, I at least skim it so I know where the story is going and if something happens towards the end of the book that I need to know at the beginning involving a character. This could change the way a character is portrayed.

Does your voice ever get tired? Do you have to do anything special to take care of your voice?

My voice definitely gets very tired after long audiobook sessions. The key is water, water, water! All day I drink water when I’m recording, and even when I’m not! Tea is wonderful too. A nice 30 minute break after an hour and a half can go a long way as well.

Let’s talk hockey. What’s your favorite team and do you have any favorite players?

My favorite team is the Winnipeg Jets. When I was a kid growing up in New York, I was a New York Jets football fan, and thought, hey I can be a fan of two Jets teams, so I became a Winnipeg fan! Of course, it saddened me when they left, but when they moved back to Winnipeg, I was a fan again! I’m really hoping I can go to Winnipeg one day and see them play. My favorite player was always Teemu Selanne.

Maxwell Glick Around the Web: 

Twitter
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Below is more information about our Hockey Rivals audiobooks. Here is the blurb for Offsides:

Twin hockey stars T.J. and Brad have finally resolved their differences and forged a friendship on and off the ice. Now high school seniors, they focus on landing a commitment to a D1 school.

What should have been the best year ever takes a nasty hit when the boys’ parents announce their divorce, and Brad makes a mistake that could impact his game eligibility. Meanwhile, T.J. faces off against their father, who opposes his decision to delay college and pursue junior hockey.

Adding to the tension are a rebellious kid brother, girlfriend trouble, and recruiting pressure. The turmoil threatens to drive the twins apart just when they need to work together the most. With a championship title and their futures at stake, T.J. and Brad must fight to keep from going offsides.

If you start a free trial with Audible, you can get an audiobook for free! How’s that for a deal?

Buy Face-Off on Audible

Buy Offsides on Audible

 

Listen To The Audible Samples Below:

New Bobby Orr Book Chronicles An Extraordinary Boston Bruins Legend

New Bobby Orr Book Chronicles An Extraordinary Boston Bruins Legend

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As a lifelong Boston Bruins fans, I love Bobby Orr. That’s why I was delighted to see a new book out about his life and legendary hockey journey.

Kevin Vautour, a member of the Society for International Hockey Research (SIHR) and the Rhode Island Reds Heritage Society; and Kerry Keene, a freelance writer and lifelong follower of Boston sports, have published their book Number 4: Bobby Orr! a heartwarming account depicting the phenomenal life of Orr and his contribution to the world of hockey that inspires others with respect and determination.

Authors Vautour and Keene delve into the persona of one amazing hockey player and the era of Bruin’s greatest peak. Here is the blurb:

Bursting upon the National Hockey League scene in the fall of 1966 amid enormous hype and expectations, Robert Gordon “Bobby” Orr would go on to exceed all predictions of greatness. Displaying All-Star level ability from the start, it was his talent as a play maker and scorer that utterly revolutionized the game of hockey.

At the same time, Orr helped revive a tired, long-suffering Boston Bruins team, leading them to their first Stanley Cup in 29 years at the age of 22. Orr and his teammates would drink from the Cup again two years later as he continued to cement his legacy with MVP Awards and Norris Trophies. The unforgettable sight of him rushing the puck up ice with blond hair flying was a thing of sheer athletic beauty.

But Orr’s fragile knees plagued him throughout his career, ultimately forcing him to retire before the age of 30. But in his decade with the Bruins, the remarkable body of work and the greatness he achieved prompt many hockey historians to regard him as the all-around greatest, most skillful player in history.

Vautour and Keene state that, “May 10, 2020 will mark the 50th anniversary of the flying Orr goal that helped the Boston Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in 29 years. That team and that goal inspired an entire region of men and woman, boys and girls to follow the game of hockey and the Boston Bruins.”

Published by New York City-based Page Publishing, Kevin Vautour and Kerry Keene’s riveting tale presents an encouraging perspective that proves how one man can revolutionize the world with sheer passion and dedication for his chosen field.

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For more information on Orr, visit his official website.

How The Boston Bruins And Team USA Inspired The Hockey Rivals Books

How The Boston Bruins And Team USA Inspired The Hockey Rivals Books

Hockey Rivals Books

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What do the Boston Bruins and the U.S. Olympic Men’s Hockey Team have to do with my Hockey Rivals series? Actually, quite a lot.  Here’s the story of why it took me 26 years to publish a sequel to my classic YA hockey book Face-Off. How crazy is it that the sequel, Offsides, just came out last fall?

It’s even crazier when you consider that I wrote Face-Off when I was a teenager. I got really obsessed with pro hockey during the late 1980s and early 1990s. It started with the 1988 Olympics, which featured hockey players like Brian Leetch, Craig Janney, and Tony Granato. Once it ended, I started following the Boston Bruins.

The Bruins were awesome, playing the Edmonton Oilers in the 1988 Stanley Cup Finals. They lost, but they were still awesome. Soon, I had posters of Cam Neely, Ray Bourque, Craig Janney, and Bob Joyce hanging on my wall. Even though Wayne Gretzky was a rival, he was amazing to watch, and I even had him on my wall. Plus he was marrying actress Janet Jones, who I loved in the gymnastics movie American Anthem. So, I could forgive him for not being a Bruin.

In high school, I kept painstaking records of the Boston Bruins’ wins and losses. An avid reader, I also read any magazines and books about NHL hockey that I could get my hands on. I had a subscription to Hockey Digest and I’d pick up copies of Hockey Illustrated at the store. My dad took me to Bruins games and I’d buy various publications at Boston Garden. I read Gretky’s autobiography, and biographies of Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito. But I couldn’t find any YA hockey books at the library or in bookstores. Since I liked to write, I decided to write my own hockey books for teens – partly to entertain myself and partly on a whim. I’d seen an ad in Tiger Beat magazine for a young adult novel competition, open to teenagers, and I decided to write a YA hockey book and enter it in the competition.

YA hockey book

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I had a blast writing my hockey story of two brothers, T.J. and Brad McKendrick, who battle on and off the ice. I wrote in a notebook during high school study hall (and ahem, during boring classes when the teacher wasn’t looking) and my friend Joanne would give me feedback. I typed it at home on a Brother word processor. (Remember those?) I set the book in Massachusetts, a hockey hotbed, and made the boys Boston Bruins fans.

To my shock, I got a telegram during my freshman year in college, notifying me that I had won. I received a contract from a major New York publisher and it was a whirlwhind of local newspaper publicity and booksignings. I received fan letters like this one asking for a sequel:

“This is, by far, one of the best books I have ever read. Face-Off has an excellent climax and a superb plot . . . This is one book I think every hockey fan should read. Your book shows how in hockey, it’s not a one-man show and it takes a whole team to win. I know a sequel to Face-Off would be great. I couldn’t change any part of this story to make it better if I tried.”
– Adam from Ohio

Behind The Scenes Of A YA Hockey Book

So, in 1993, I decided to write a sequel. I finished the first draft of Offsides when I was twenty, a college sophomore. But when I submitted it to the publisher, there had been a major restructuring and my editor was gone. No one there remembered Face-Off as I got rejected with a form letter. Then I sent the story to other publishers. They weren’t interested in a sequel to a novel published by another company. Since no one would publish it, I put the book in a drawer.

Fast forward to 2011. After years of working as a reporter and continuing to write fiction, I was back in the publishing game with two adult mystery novels Twenty-Five Years Ago Today and Sink or Swim, and my young adult supernatural thriller Dark Before Dawn. Thanks to the growth of ebooks, there were many more opportunities for authors than there had been in the 1990s.

Since Face-Off was only available from used bookstores, I self-published a second edition in ebook, paperback, and Audible formats. It immediately started selling, and I vowed to publish Offsides also. I hired a company to scan my old manuscript into a computer so I could work with it again.

The book needed a lot of rewriting. I began researching junior hockey and Division 1 scholarships, but when my daughter was diagosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2013, it hit me hard, and I stopped writing. When the words finally started flowing again, my muse was directing me to write my Storybook Valley romantic comedy series for adults. I needed to write something light and funny.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about my old friends Brad, T.J., Chris, and Jory, especially since mothers and grandmothers kept emailing me to ask about a sequel. Suddenly, I was inspired to go back to it before another generation outgrew the book.

This was one of the strangest, most rewarding, projects I’ve ever undertaken as I had such a unique collaborator–my teenage self. Once I got going, writing in the voices of the McKendrick boys felt totally natural to me. The twenty-five year wall disappeared and it was as if no time had passed. Over the next six months, I rewrote every single word. I’m grateful to my teenage self though, as she provided the basic outline. My adult self fleshed it out and improved the writing. I have to admit, it was fun giving the boys cell phones and showing them texting and on social media.

It was also interesting as my original “outline” was penned by a teenager, but when I was rewriting it, I had a parent’s perspective. Part of Face-Off‘s charm is that it was written by a teen for teens. With Offsides, it was neat to have my teenage self collaborate with my adult self and to blend both perspectives. I am also grateful to the organization College Hockey, Inc. for answering my questions about junior hockey and Division 1 scholarships.

Here is the blurb for the sequel. Twin hockey stars Brad and T.J. have finally resolved their differences and forged a friendship on and off the ice. What should have been the best year ever takes a nasty hit when the boys’ parents announce their divorce, and Brad makes a mistake that could impact his game eligibility. Meanwhile, T.J. faces off against their father, who opposes his decision to delay college and pursue junior hockey.

Adding to the tension are a rebellious kid brother, girlfriend trouble, and recruiting pressure. The turmoil threatens to drive the twins apart just when they need to work together the most. With a championship title and their futures at stake, T.J. and Brad must fight to keep from going offsides.

The book is available in paperback, e-book, and audiobook formats. I’m excited as the Audible audiobook edition came out last week, and in a neat twist of fate, the Boston Bruins are going to be facing the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Finals next week. How nice that the B’s inspired me to write Face-Off, and that Boston Bruins hockey is still going strong.

Offsides YA Sports Audiobook Perfect Road Trip Entertainment for Teens

Offsides YA Sports Audiobook Perfect Road Trip Entertainment for Teens

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Do you need some road trip entertainment for teens and tweens this summer? Offsides (Hockey Rivals Book 2) is now available as an Audible audiobook. Maxwell Glick, who narrated Face-Off (Hockey Rivals Book 1) is back as the voice of the McKendrick brothers in this explosive sequel, an action-packed hockey novel for young adults.

The release of the audiobook edition is extremely exciting to me as Offsides was published 26 years after the original publication of Face-Off. The print and e-book editions came out late last year, and Maxwell and I began working on the Audible edition in March. What a fascinating experience this was for me, revisiting characters I created at sixteen years old and hearing my scenes performed by a talented narrator.  I had such fun bringing Brad and T.J. into the present with cell phones, texting, and social media, and even more fun listening to Maxwell’s performance.

I think teens and tweens, especially sports fans, will love listening to the audiobook on car trips or plane rides. Here is a blurb:

Twin hockey stars T.J. and Brad have finally resolved their differences and forged a friendship on and off the ice. Now high school seniors, they focus on landing a commitment to a D1 school.

What should have been the best year ever takes a nasty hit when the boys’ parents announce their divorce, and Brad makes a mistake that could impact his game eligibility. Meanwhile, T.J. faces off against their father, who opposes his decision to delay college and pursue junior hockey.

Adding to the tension are a rebellious kid brother, girlfriend trouble, and recruiting pressure. The turmoil threatens to drive the twins apart just when they need to work together the most. With a championship title and their futures at stake, T.J. and Brad must fight to keep from going offsides. 

You can listen to clips of the Face-Off and Offsides audiobooks below.  If you start a free trial with Audible, you can get an audiobook for free!

Buy Face-Off on Audible

Buy Offsides on Audible

Conclusion

Here is a recent review from Ariesgrl Book Reviews“I read the first book in the series, several years ago and I loved it. I love hockey and I was thrilled to discover a middle grade book. With this sequel, I learned a lot about Junior league and the steps required to catch the eyes of colleges and the NHL. I hope the author continues to develop the series, as I am sure fans are going to crave more McKendrick hockey.”

I hope fans will crave more also as I have an idea for a third book.

Here is a post on why it took me 26 years to publish the sequel and stay tuned for an interview with narrator Maxwell Glick.

High School Hockey Coach Publishes Young Adult Hockey Novel

High School Hockey Coach Publishes Young Adult Hockey Novel

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Nick Boorman is no stranger to high school hockey. Besides penning the novel High School Hero: Freshman Year for Page Publishing,  he is also a high school hockey and soccer coach and physical education teacher. Teaching life lessons through sports is his passion. High School Hero introduces Gunner Bale, a first-year high school athlete who sets high goals for personal achievement in the classroom and on the ice. When he is selected for the freshman soccer team, he vows to do everything in his power to make the varsity hockey team; will it be enough? Here is an interview with Nick.

 

Have you had other careers before becoming a writer?

I am actually a really busy person. Besides being a writer, I coach varsity high school hockey and soccer. I am also a physical education teacher, summer camp director, and intramural sports coach. Becoming a published writer is a new chapter for me.

 

What inspired your latest release?

I have been a teacher for 10 years. When I started teaching I realized that many of my students who enjoyed sports did not have enough books they could relate to.  This led to many students saying they did not like to read. I decided to write a book that they would enjoy, not be embarrassed of, and actually learn life lessons through the story. 

 

Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

I was not “born to write”. I have the learning disability dyslexia. Because of this, I grew up a struggling reader. Even though it was hard for me to read I still enjoyed it. Throughout my life I have learned a lot of great life lessons from sports such as the importance of teamwork, perseverance, always displaying high character, and positive leadership. As a teacher and coach I teach these lessons every day to my students and players. I wanted to reach a wider audience for my positive message. That is why writing this book was so appealing to me.

I was always told growing up that I was a good writer, but it took me longer to write than most of my peers. To be honest I was scared that I would never be able to finish a book. But because I was writing about something that really interested me I really enjoyed the process and finishing the book was not a problem.

How much of you is in the books you write? In what ways?

A lot of experienced writers say that writing about what you know is a great way to start. That is what I did. As a hockey and soccer player since kindergarten, those two sports helped shape who I am today. I wrote about many of my life experiences through a fictitious character. This book is by no means my life story, but there are things that happened to me and my friends that feature throughout the book.

 

Do you outline your books or wing it? Describe your process.

I outlined this book for seven years before I began writing. When I started teaching and realized that a vast majority of the athletes could not find a book that interested them that is when the creative juices started following. After seven years of outlining and planning, the book was more than ready to be written.

 

Do you have a view in your writing space? What does your space look like?

My writing space was different all the time. I carried my laptop with me everywhere I went and wrote in different places. I also came up with ideas in my head and would write notes in my phone regularly. The place where a vast majority of my book was written was in a quit dark room. There were no distractions, just me visualizing the story in my head.

 

Tell us about your hero or heroine. Give us one of his/her strengths and one of his/her weaknesses.

The main character of the book is Gunnar Bale. His main goal is to make his high school varsity ice hockey team as a freshman. Gunnar is small for his age and sports do not come easy to him. But Gunnar’s strength is his high character. He is a great friend to Amari and Wes, he is intrinsically motivated to be the best, and he has a contagious positive no quit winning attitude.  Gunnar’s weakness is controlling his emotions. Sometimes he acts before he thinks. This is something that many teens in the target audience can relate to.

 

You’re having a party. What character from your book do you hope attends? Why? What character do you hope doesn’t attend? Why?

There is an exciting scene in the book about a high school party. I certainly do not want to give away that scene. The person I would want most at the party is one of the main characters, Amari. Amari is an extremely hard worker, a great student, quarterback of the football team, hopeful for the varsity hockey team, and a great friend. Amari is a collection of the best parts of many of my friends growing up.

The person I would not want to at my party, and I would never invite to my party is Jimmy Marley. Jimmy is a very poor decision maker. He is a negative influence on all that cross his path. Jimmy portrays the negative path teens can go down while in high school.

 

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I was the captain of my high schools soccer, hockey, and lacrosse teams. I played college hockey for four years and captained the team as a senior.

 

high school hockey coach

 

 

About the Book

Gunnar Bale is just a freshman at Slayton High School, but he has high aspirations to be the big man on campus. Gunnar plays for his high school’s soccer team and is preparing for his top personal goal, making the varsity hockey team. Gunnar is accompanied by great friends and talented adversaries. Does Gunnar have what it takes to play for the best high school hockey team in the state? Can Gunnar survive the social pressures of the teenage wasteland he is dropped into? Strap in for the wild ride!

 

Excerpt

Below is an excerpt from the book. Gunnar Bale has been training to make his school’s varsity ice hockey team. A new student moves to town who is a great hockey player, and Gunnar challenges him to a roller hockey game. . . 

As Gunnar walked up to the roller hockey rink, upperclassmen were patting him on the back and yelling his name. Gunnar was all smiles. He loved the instant popularity and limelight. For a second, he forgot how nervous he was.

Gunnar started to strap up his rollerblades and the crowd started to get restless. Where was Jonny Clarke?

When Gunnar was fully suited up, the varsity guys skated off the rink. It was just Gunnar in the arena, with over three hundred raucous fans surrounding him. He started to skate around and stick handle. He had worked on his game so much, and he wanted to show it off. As he showed off some moves, toe drags, and dekes, the crowd oooed and ahhed.

The crowd was getting restless. Where was Jonny Clarke? Someone from the crowd yelled, “It’s past 6:15 p.m. This kid from Cali isn’t coming!” Right as he yelled this, a loud engine made a roaring noise. Everyone looked to the top of the hill parking lot. It was a brand new Maserati. Out stepped Jonny Clarke with his long bleached-blonde hair flowing in the wind, and his big muscles on full display. His rollerblades were already on and laced up. Jonny lived on the Slayton-Crayfield town line, better known as the filthy rich part of town.

All of Gunnar’s nervous thoughts instantly returned. He was about to play this monster of a freshman in front of three hundred screaming fans. He thought that if he won, he would be the hero he longed to be. If he lost . . . he couldn’t allow that to happen.

As Jonny zipped down the steep hill, the crowd started to get really loud, and the lights came on in the park and perfectly lit the entire rink. It was like he was a pro wrestler, strolling into the ring with a sold-out audience. Jonny played the role of the rockstar villain perfectly.

Jonny yelled out to the crowd, “Sorry to keep you waiting, I’m still on West Coast time. But I’m here. Let’s play some hockey!” The crowd cheered!

Jonny skated over to Gunnar. “Good luck, bro.” They both shook hands. “Everyone is here to see this. Hope you’re ready,” said Jonny with a smirk.

Nate walked out to the middle of the rink. “Listen up, everyone!” he yelled, “The game is to five, loser’s ball on every goal. Take backs to half court. These two diaper dandies will be shooting on the baddest goalie in high school hockey, the BRICK WALL, Steven Gomez!”

Steven went between the pipes. The crowd was shaking the fence and cheering their brains out. Jonny and Gunnar put their sticks down for the face-off. Gunnar looked right into Jonny’s eyes with the fiercest look he could muster up. He wanted to win the early psychological battle.

Jonny, as cool as the other side of the pillow, just smirked and  tapped his stick.

Nate dropped the hockey ball—GAME ON!

 

Where To Buy

High School Hero Website

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

iBooks

Google Play

 

 

AdventHealth / Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey Bear Cheers Up Kids In Hospitals

AdventHealth / Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey Bear Cheers Up Kids In Hospitals

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I admit, I’m a Boston Bruins fans, but now I have a special place in my heart for the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey team. And it’s all because of a bear. But before we get into that, let me backtrack to a night several years ago at a New England hospital.

On that fateful night, my six-year-old kindergartener was in the intensive care unit, newly diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. What a scary, heart-wrenching time for all of us. One thing that helped was the kindness of strangers.

During her three-night stay, as my little girl was getting jabbed with needles and her life was changing forever, the hospital staff gave her toys to take home. Maybe because it was around Christmas, people had donated books, board games, and puzzles both for the play room and for kids to keep. But the first gift was one I will always remember.

We were in the ICU shortly after diagnosis and my daughter was doing okay, but frightened. It was 11 o’clock at night, and she should have been home snuggled in bed with her stuffed animals. Instead, she was getting insulin through an IV and hooked up to a heart rate monitor.

Then the nurse brought in a stuffed brown bear wearing a pink hat and wrapped in a soft pink blanket. My daughter clutched that bear the first night and kept it beside her during her whole hospital stay.

“I can keep it?” she asked hopefully. The one time she felt hopeful in those early dark hours. My own emotions kept darting between fear, fury that this was happening, and grief for the end of my daughter’s carefree childhood.

But as she hugged that bear, I remember thinking, “Thank you. Thank you to whoever donated him. There are nice people in the world.”

tampa bay lightning team

Lightning Hockey Magic

That’s why when a press release about the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Buddy Bear programwhich brings bears to children in similar situations—crossed my desk, I had to feature it on my blog.

AdventHealth and the Tampa Bay Lightning team recently teamed up to host the third annual Pediatric Health Night as the Lightning took on the Ottawa Senators. The first 3,000 Bolts fans to visit the designated area inside the AMALIE arena received a free, commemorative co-branded AdventHealth/Lightning Buddy Bear, celebrating the new black Lightning jersey. Before the puck dropped, fans could head to Thunder Alley for family-fun activities and kid-friendly games along with prizes at the AdventHealth tents.

tampa bay lightning fans

For every Buddy Bear handed out at the game, a bear was delivered to a child in AdventHealth’s care along with a personalized note of encouragement from a fan. I love that idea!

And the great thing is, this is an ongoing program. Anyone can purchase a commemorative buddy bear for $25 at http://www.adventhealthbuddybear.com, fill out an online note of inspiration, and AdventHealth will deliver a new bear with the note to a pediatric patient. The Buddy Bear Program benefits the AdventHealth West Florida Foundation and contributions will be used to purchase pediatric life-saving equipment, new technology and create new pediatric facilities and services in the community.

tampa bay lightning souvenirs

“We are more than a trusted healthcare system, we are a dedicated community partner that is committed to helping people live their healthiest life possible,” said Lauren Key, Senior Executive Officer of Consumer Strategy, AdventHealth West Florida Division. “We look forward to encouraging every Bolts fan to write an uplifting message that is delivered with a bear to help our youngest patients smile and feel whole.”

The West Florida Division of AdventHealth has a network of care that includes AdventHealth Carrollwood, AdventHealth Connerton, AdventHealth Dade City, AdventHealth Lake Placid, AdventHealth North Pinellas, AdventHealth Ocala, AdventHealth Sebring, AdventHealth Tampa, AdventHealth Wauchula, AdventHealth Wesley Chapel and AdventHealth Zephyrhills, as well as three freestanding offsite Emergency Rooms including AdventHealth Central Pasco ER, AdventHealth Palm Harbor ER and AdventHealth TimberRidge ER.

“The Lightning are very happy to be once again teaming up with our great partners at AdventHealth to bring attention to pediatric health concerns,” Lightning CEO Steve Griggs said. “We look forward to helping make healthier young Bolts fans in Tampa Bay and would like to thank AdventHealth for always bringing health and wellness to the forefront.”

Tampa Bay Lightning family

About the AdventHealth West Florida Foundation (Formerly Florida Hospital Foundation West Florida Division)

The AdventHealth West Florida Foundation is a not-for-profit 501c3 organization that supports programs and services throughout the AdventHealth West Florida Division network of care. Through generous donations and acts of gratitude, the foundation funds new facilities, and life-saving equipment and technology to advance medicine, enhance patient experiences and provide world-class healthcare, close to home. With a sacred mission of Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ, they strive to help more people feel whole and live their healthiest life possible. 

How To Buy And Donate A Lightning Hockey Bear

Tampa Bay Lightning shopHere are the details on how to participate in the program. Buy a customized AdventHealth / Tampa Bay Lightning team teddy bear for $25.

For every $25 you spend, you’ll receive one bear and a pediatric patient at one of the AdventHealth West Florida hospitals will receive one Buddy Bear.

$25 = One bear for you and one bear for a buddy

$50 = Two bears for you and two bears for two different buddies

$75 = Three bears for you and three bears for three different buddies

$100 = Four bears for you and four bears for four different buddies

If you would like to purchase more than one bear for a buddy, but wouldn’t like more than one bear for yourself, you can let them know in the custom message section of the donation page and they will send your extra bears to additional buddies.

Your generous participation in the Buddy Bear program brings love and joy to the pediatric patients at AdventHealth West Florida hospitals. What a great program for Bolts fans, and for anyone who wants to reach out to a child in the hospital.

Believe me, it will give them a lightning bolt of hope during a tough time.

What do you think of this program? Has your family ever been touched by kindness during a hospital stay? 

 

 

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