NEW YORK—In recognition of its tremendous leadership and community work, the Stanley Cup was honored Wednesday for its dedication to helping developmentally disabled trophies.
The 118-year-old hockey award, which was presented with the Horace P. Norquist Prize during the annual Outstanding Award Achievement dinner, has worked with physically and mentally impaired trophies since 1963, and has increased the confidence and self-worth of such special-needs prizes as the FIFA World Cup, the Claret Jug, the Borg-Warner Trophy, the Wimbledon plate, and countless other mentally deficient medals and ribbons.
“The Stanley Cup is a pillar of the trophy community, working tirelessly for over 45-years to make a positive difference,” said event organizer Kenneth Hegland, who relayed an anecdote about how hockey’s most prestigious trophy only needed to spend 15 minutes with the FedEx Cup before golf’s season-ending award became much less insecure about its various cognitive and emotional disabilities. “While the volunteer efforts are impressive, what is truly inspiring is the encouragement and hope the Stanley Cup has given thousands of developmentally handicapped trophies throughout the world.”
“The Stanley Cup teaches them to be themselves and emphasizes that all trophies are special trophies,” Hegland added. “It’s so heartwarming to see the way those awards light up when the Stanley Cup is wheeled into the room.”
According to the event program, the Stanley Cup began helping special-needs trophies after seeing how they were unfairly ridiculed simply because they “looked a little funny” or were different from the rest. The patience it showed while working with the Kentucky Derby’s garland of roses—an extremely low-functioning award—was, speakers confirmed, proof of how serious the cup was about the cause.
Throughout the evening, the 3-foot metal trophy was repeatedly praised for encouraging developmentally disabled awards to meet their full potential and be the best reward they can be.
“The Stanley Cup deserves a lot of credit, because, I’ll be honest with you, I wouldn’t have had the patience to continuously work with an honor as limited in its mental faculties as Rickey Henderson’s Hall of Fame plaque,” said Janet Kempley, co-chair of the Norquist Prize selection committee. “But that’s what the Stanley Cup does. It single-handedly boosted the self-esteem of the Wimbledon plate and made it feel like an important accomplishment even when a lot of people were making fun of it with derogatory comments. And look at it now. It’s very prestigious for tennis.”
“The Stanley Cup could sit back and rest on its laurels, but no, it gets outs there and provides support to every mentally disabled prize from the America’s Cup to the 1983 bronze medal for discus,” Kempley added. “It even took the time to help a little-known eighth-place Little League trophy from Dayton, OH. It didn’t have to do that.”
According to keynote speaker Gary Bettman, the Stanley Cup’s greatest role has been changing societal attitudes about intellectually challenged trophies and getting people to understand that many of them have faced brutal neglect, been called terrible names from the moment they were first awarded, and, in some cases, been victims of physical and sexual abuse. Bettman said the Stanley Cup has made a lasting impact, adding that before it became an advocate for the rights of physically and mentally impaired awards, it wasn’t taboo for people to call them “stupid” or mock them for their abnormal shapes.
“Years ago, people were cruel to developmentally disabled trophies because they felt like they weren’t really awards. Some even thought they should just be locked up forever in some trophy case somewhere,” Bettman said. “The Stanley Cup raised awareness by pointing out that just because you are the WBC title belt or the green jacket doesn’t mean you are freakish or ‘spazzy,’ but a prize just as good as the World Series and Larry O’Brien trophies of the world.”
“People used to call the Breeder’s Cup Trophy retarded all the time and never thought twice about it,” Bettman continued. “Not anymore.”