Here on Intermission Report, we talk about the NHL, AHL, sometimes even the KHL…basically all of the Pro leagues. Every once in a while a story appears from another level that not only captivates everyones’ attention but deserves some recognition. For the past nine months, that story has been Jack Jablonski.
For those who aren’t aware, Jablonski is a 16-year old Minnesota hockey player who was paralyzed last December on a perfectly legal hockey hit that went wrong. The outcome? A severed spine and diagnosis that he would never walk again. Jablonski’s reaction was spoken like a true hockey player – “I don’t care if I walk again, I just want to skate”.
Will he ever skate again? No one knows. But if anyone can beat the odds it is Jack. Doctors told him he would never have movement below his neck. He can move both arms below the elbow and has had feeling in his legs. He also set a goal to return to school in time for the start of his junior year. Guess where he was last week? This kid does not know the meaning of quit.
Which is one of the reasons he is a finalist for the America’s Choice Nominee for Courage in Sports. Voting is done on Facebook here with the two lowest vote-getters being eliminated each week. We are already in week two and once again Jack has a huge lead over the competition. While each of their stories are compelling and deserving of the recognition, it is no surprise to me that Jack is receiving as much support as he is. NHL players past and present have been contacting him since the injury with a number of websites devoted to keeping up to date with his progress. (The ones run by his family can be found here and here.)
Here is his “story” from the voting site:
On December 30, 2011, a seemingly normal hockey check changed Jack Jablonski’s life forever. While going after the puck, the 16-year-old sophomore at Benilde-St.Maragaret High School in Minnesota was hit almost simultaneously by two opposing players. Jablonski crashed head first into the boards and lay motionless on the ice.
After being taken to a nearby hospital, doctors discovered Jablonski had broken a vertebra and severed his spinal cord. Jablonski was paralyzed and would never walk or skate again.
Since that day, Jablonski has received an outpouring of support from the hockey community. NHL players have tweeted, sent video messages and even visited Jablonksi in the hospital, including Zdeno Charo of the Boston Bruins, Wayne Gretzky, Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, and players from the San Jose Sharks and Minnesota Wild.
Since his injury, Jablonski has remained positive and hopeful. He doesn’t blame the player who hit him and has instead reached out to make sure he is doing OK. Today, Jablonski is out of the hospital and, having regained some movement in his upper arms, remains focused on recovery. “I don’t care if I walk again, I just want to skate,” he says.
Maybe having a younger brother close to Jablonski’s age who plays hockey causes his story to affect me more but I am honestly amazed and inspired by this kid. I can’t imagine how I would feel if my life got turned upside down when I was 16 years old. To see him have such a positive approach to everything going on around him is just remarkable.
We’re not asking anyone to donate or even follow his story. But take two seconds and give Jack a vote for this honor. His courage is exactly the inspiration the organization looks to recognize.