Injured hockey player starts foundationJan 01 05:38
Life never ceases to amaze me, especially when it comes to "randomly" meeting people. A couple of weeks ago after dining on thinly crusted panko-crusted chicken breasts with my family for a holiday dinner at Kincaid's (a fancy restaurant in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota), I ran into Jack Jablonski - the 17 year old hockey player from Minneapolis who made nationwide news when he was injured one year ago after being hit from behind during a game.
It was crazy. People from all echelons of society poured out to help. NHL players, local celebrities, area churches, Hollywood big shots, everyone came out, and he totally needed it. But what’s bugged me is that among all the other people injured in my home state since Jack has been hurt, not one has been on the news. And we all know how being on the news can mean the difference between getting what you need and not at all.
As a journalist, I can see why this happened. Jack's story: "High school hockey player injured while playing," is a great headline from a news producer's perspective, and they’ve been milking Jack’s story for a year. Local news stations have been following everything about him, from his latest recovery to going back to school. Ok, we get it. It's a tragic story.
He's become a media darling I guess you could say. It‘s great to see any person with a SCI in that light….but what about all the other guys I‘ve met - Scott, Gabe, Joe - newly injured local men injured in their own crazy ways, aren’t their stories just as newsworthy?
Apparently not. And THIS is why I’m so ecstatic about Jack’s latest plans. Since hearing about Jack, I’ve wanted to meet him, but I stayed away. I didn't know him from Adam. I didn't want to get in his face. But that's how fate works I guess. Instead, I end up runnig into him after dinner with my parents. Rolling across the cold park, I spotted him in the warming house by the ice rink (he was there for a magazine photo shoot).
Despite the “No entry sign,” I bum-rolled in and introduced myself. This was my chance. I could feel it; a “lighted opportunity” presented by the Gods, if you will. All of a sudden, I was sitting before him asking if he was Jack (pretty sure I came across as some kind of crazy lady in a wheelchair). Yes, yes he was.
But that's ok. I was able to introduce myself to Jack, and more importantly I told him what I've been meaning to tell him (if I ever had the opportunity to meet him) and that’s - you have a torch. Yes, you have a torch, Mr. Jack, and it’s time to carry it. I told him how lucky he was for help he’s had, and I told him that even though I've been injured forever, I too want to walk again (I really wanted him to see I wasn't one of those “oldies” in a wheelchair who’s ok with not being able to walk. We don’t all turn into that).
He looked at me and really didn't show much expression on his face, so I left it there and rolled out of there (after our mom’s met too). It was so strange though. I couldn’t believe I had met him...in that way. Within minutes, I was in a dark theater trying to watch "Elf" at the Ordway, but my mind was racing. I love how paths line up for meetings to occur.
Needless to say, you can imagine how eerie it was when just the other day local news broke to say Jack and his family has founded a nonprofit, The Jack Jablonski Believe In Miracles Foundation (love the name!), with the goal of helping others with spinal cord injuries gain access to the same great therapy Jack has been able to receive, and to fund research for a cure for spinal cord injuries. Dude.
When my boyfriend and I heard this, we both looked at each other with “OMG” on our faces. How freaking awesome was THIS series of events? Maybe what I said to him sank in afterall. Maybe I wasn't construed as some washed-up lady in a wheelcair?
Seeing him on TV at the press conference, sitting by his parents looking more mature than ever, announcing the formation of his foundation, I'm pretty sure it did.
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Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.