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Luke Gerhardt finds happiness managing Topeka Roadrunners

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The Special Education program at Washburn Rural has worked to provide many opportunities for the students with special needs. While these students can get involved in many activities with the school, such as Capernaum and Unified Sports, Luke Gerhardt wanted to expand his horizons and get involved in activities outside of school as well.

Gerhardt is a manager for the National American Hockey League (NAHL) hockey team, the Topeka Roadrunners. He gets to spend every home game down by the ice refilling water bottles, getting equipment ready and getting to spend time with the players. During Gerhardt’s three years of being with the team, he has gotten close to many of the players, and they have grown very fond of him.

I love hockey. I love it because I help the players and the coaches out”

— Luke Gerhardt

“I love hockey. I love it because I help the players and the coaches out. They love me and it makes me proud,” Gerhardt said. “It is really nice because it is not just about them playing. They come and watch me play Unified Sports, too.”

Gerhardt has enjoyed being with the team for years and has recently received a promotion, allowing him to stand by the team’s bench with the players during the game.

Special Education teacher Kak Eli-Schneider hears about Gerhardt’s hockey experiences daily and is very proud of what he is doing.

“I love when the team comes out to support Luke. They have come to Unified basketball games in Kansas City, but the best was when they were all in the stands at Everyone’s a Junior Blue Night,” Eli-Schneider said. “All the kids loved it. [It] made Luke feel more famous.”

Being an assistant equipment manager has not only been great for Gerhardt, but he has also made an impression on the players he spends the most time with.

Gerhardt and his family host one, sometimes multiple, players every year and he has gotten the opportunity to get to know them even more outside of hockey. He also has gotten to know two players that stay with one of his friends, becoming close to them.

Topeka Roadrunners defender Ryan Dickinson has enjoyed Gerhardt’s company during this season and has had some memorable moments with him.

He is a wonderful person and puts a smile on my face everyday”

— Topeka Roadrunners defender Ryan Dickinson

“Having Luke around the team has been a very positive thing for me,” Dickinson said. “He is a wonderful person and puts a smile on my face everyday.”

Dickinson is in his first season with the Roadrunners and said he is grateful to have met Gerhardt.

After only knowing each other for a short time, they have created a sibling bond and talk every day of the week.

“My favorite memory with Luke is after a big win, he will come join us as we smile and laugh and dance. It’s just nice to see him so happy,” Dickinson said. “He is a great kid with a big heart and I love him like a brother.”

While there are many fun moments Gerhardt has had during the season, he said he enjoys some more than others.

The team has to travel often for games over the weekends, and this is the first year that Gerhardt has been able to tag along and stay with them. These, in particular, have contributed to many weekends full of fun and laughter for everyone.

“I get to help them out [during road trips] and be independent,” Gerhardt said. “This is the first year I have been able to travel along with them and stay in hotels and everything.”

Being with the team every weekend has been a very positive experience for Gerhardt and has affected many people.

“He loves it. Everything is about hockey; he talks about it to everyone,” Eli-Schneider said. “It makes him feel good to be doing something for the team. I can see that he is proud of what he does.”

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Luke Gerhardt finds happiness managing Topeka Roadrunners”

  1. Shannon Dickinson on March 3rd, 2017 8:26 am

    I love this article. Luke lights up the rink. He brings joy. The World desperately needs more Joy.

    [Reply]

  2. Jason Simonsen on March 3rd, 2017 9:33 am

    Great read about a great young man…

    [Reply]

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Luke Gerhardt finds happiness managing Topeka Roadrunners