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“I Believe I’ll Skate Again” – Jack Jablonski Remains Hopeful 10 Years Post-Paralysis

Photos by Elizabeth Flores, Jagger Hespquist and Katie Chin

“I Believe I’ll Skate Again” – Jack Jablonski Remains Hopeful 10 Years Post-Paralysis

Thursday, December 30 marked the 10-year anniversary of the day that changed the life of then 16-year-old Jack Jablonski. Not only was it the final game of a high school hockey Christmas tournament, but it was the final hockey game in Jablonski’s playing career.

At least for now.

“Ten years ago today, I woke a bit late and rushed off to the rink in preparation for our championship game in the holiday tournament,” Jablonski shared in a post on Twitter. “Little did I know that when I walked into the rink that day and stepped on the ice, I wouldn’t walk out.”

The former Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School hockey player did not walk out of the arena. Rather, he was rolled out on a stretcher, fed into an ambulance and then rushed to hospital – Hennepin County Medical Center – where he would stay in critical condition and undergo many procedures over the next number of days, turned weeks, turned months.

“My life was flipped upside down and what was then normal that morning was normal no more,” Jablonski continued. “After sustaining an illegal check from behind, I went uncontrollably head first into the boards, breaking my C-5 and C-6 vertebrae and severing my spinal cord completely. Since that day, I’ve been dependent on others to help me live and am paralyzed from the chest-down.”

In the 10 years since suffering a broken neck, Jablonski has served as a role model within his local Minnesota community, while continuing to pursue his dreams of a career in hockey – more specifically within the NHL.

And believe it or not, he is actually doing so.

He graduated from the University of Southern California, all while creating the ‘Believe in Miracles’ foundation, to which over $3 million has been raised for research on debilitating spinal cord injuries. Jablonski is actually one of the subjects within a pointed upper-limb study. He also serves as a youth hockey coach in his spare time.

Oh right, he now has a full-time job with the Los Angeles Kings. Turning a communications internship into a Monday-Friday gig, Jablonski serves as a team representative and media personnel member, who assembles content at home games at Crypto.Com Arena each time the Kings suit up, despite his crippling disability.

“Paralysis is not something I would wish upon my worst enemy and no one should live with it,” he said. “You don’t realize the value of physical function, feeling, independence and privacy until it is gone. But, since my injury, I have dedicated my life to overcoming my injury, proving the doctors wrong and finding the cure to paralysis with my foundation.”

Unable to use his hands, move his legs or grasp items with his fingers, Jablonski does continue to push forward with progress in re-gaining movements and bodily function as the weeks wear on. Living with a full-time caregiver, the now 26-year-old is enjoying his daily routines, while continuing to push for future mobility within his ever-recovering body.

“I’m eternally grateful and wouldn’t be where I am today without my supporters; a graduate of USC, head of the Jack Jablonski Foundation and working for the LA Kings,” he added. “I will not give up, ever. I believe in SCI recovery, I believe I will walk and I believe I will skate again. Recovery is possible. Thank you.”

Carter Brooks - Associate Editor of Game On Magazine - is a news writer and sports columnist situated in Winnipeg, MB. On top of reading and writing, his favourite pastimes include camping, car-modification projects and coaching hockey. Carter can be reached at carterbrooks1994@gmail.com or on Twitter at @GameOnHockey.

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