Leslie's Blog


Foot Joy

Lots of time has passed since my last post, and lots has happened since then too.

However, the best update to share occurred today…

Jack posted his exciting news on Twitter...

Jack Jablonski @Jabs_13 (he welcomes you to follow him!):
I think I just moved my right foot... #isthisreallife

Hello….Really Jack???

I was working in my home office and suddenly a slew of text messages bombarded my phone…"Is it true?" "Did Jack really move his foot?" "Wow!, Great news!!!"

I had NO idea.

I ran upstairs to the deck where Jack was sitting in the sun. I asked him what was going on. Jack replied with one of those "Oh mom, you're making a big deal out of nothing" kind of comments. Ummm…no Jack….this is BIG. 

My first question was, "Did your foot move from a spasm or did you actually make it move?"

Jack: "I made it move.”

Me: "Do it again."

Jack: "I can't."

Okay, I get that. But this is SO exciting !!!  So Exciting !!!

Another "not supposed to happen" moment occurred today when I was with Jack at Courage Kenny for his rehab. I watched Jack sit up on a mat by himself. Super steady. I was shocked. Jack reminded me that he's done this a "million times" before. Maybe. But never so steady. I was in awe.

While Jack was sitting up I asked his trainer what else is new. He said that Jack has recently moved his triceps on his own. They've helped him raise his arms above his shoulders to see if he could fire up his tricep muscles on his own. He did! He does! Another "not supposed to happen" occurrence. LOVE!!!

These are Jack's physical progress updates. I have more to post since our foundation has been busy raising money for spinal cord injury research and recovery. Will share photos and info from our golf tourney and fill you in on upcoming events. Soon. I promise.

As always, we appreciate your continued support, good wishes and prayers for Jack. 




By Leslie Jablonski

SOS…the international Morse code for help.

We're putting an SOS out there for people to help Jack help others. It's really simple. And it's really cool. 

On Saturday, July 19th, Jack and I are participating in the "Walk to Victory Over Paralysis" treadmill walkathon at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Golden Valley (MN). 

What is this you ask…it's a national fundraiser for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network, which consists of 12 cutting edge rehabilitation centers designed to provide and develop therapies that promote functional recovery and improve the health and quality of life for people living with paralysis.

Multiple treadmills will run nonstop at the participating NRN sites for a 24-hour period. For instance, current and former clients of Courage Kenny will be supported by a harness and suspended over a treadmill, which is part of their locomotor therapy in the ABLE program. ABLE stands for Activity-Based Locomotor Exercise. At the same time, an able-body (no pun intended) - like me - will walk on a separate treadmill that will be placed next to the Therastride where Jack will walk.

It takes four specially trained therapists to assist the client - two to move the participant's legs, another to stand behind and help support the client in an upright position, and one to monitor the movement on a computer. It's quite a process, but oh-so-worth it. 

Just ask Jack. He'll tell you how ABLE therapy at Courage Kenny has been essential to his health and recovery process. Since starting the program, Jack has regained abilities that were lost because of his injury. It's also kept him healthy. We all know how crucial exercise is to a healthy lifestyle...sitting in a chair all day is just not okay. Finally, this therapy is hard work and as I mentioned, it takes a team to make it possible.

It's an incredible team of ABLE therapists and clients and one that we wish every person living with paralysis could be a part of. But, they're not and that's why we're on a mission to raise awareness and funds for the program. Our BEL13VE in Miracles Foundation has provided scholarships to fellow Courage Kenny clients who have been in need of funds so that they can have access to the ABLE therapy. It's expensive and often not covered by insurance. Yet it's critical to the well being of people living with paralysis.

With that said, we hope you'll consider helping Jack help the Courage Kenny team in the Walk to Victory Over Paralysis this week. 

All donations will support Courage Kenny and other NeuroRecovery Network sites across the country. Your gift will help more people living with paralysis benefit from ABLE therapy.

Here's a link to Jack's page on the event site: http://bit.ly/U2nDss. If you're able, we'd love your support. There's a donation tab on the top right side of the page. Even just spreading the word about the importance of ABLE is greatly appreciated. 

Jack and I will be walking on Saturday at noon. And, our friend Lisa Sfarzo will be walking in Jack's honor at the same time at Journey Forward, the NeuroRecovery site in Canton, MA. Thanks Lisa!

We hope you'll help Jack help others. 

Thanks so much!

Dream Baby Dream

It seems appropriate that I (a long-time, avid fan) would fall in love with one of Bruce Springsteen's latest songs, "Dream Baby Dream," from the recent "High Hopes" album. Guess I'm dating myself by saying, "album," right? 

Here's a Youtube video of Bruce singing the song. Enjoy.

Anyway, it's a beautiful song. And one that is so fitting for this week. 

For several reasons. 

One. I had a dream the other night. Actually, there have been a bunch like this, but this one was so real. At least it seemed to be. Wish it was. I cannot remember anything else from the dream other than Jack suddenly pulling himself up to a standing position. All by himself. It was so awesome. So real. It was one of those dreams that makes you want to go back to sleep so it won't go away. 

But, I do bel13ve it will come true. Some day. 

Two. Dreams. This past weekend was the 2014 NHL Draft. A day Jack had always dreamed he'd be a part of. A day he very well might have been a part of. But, we will never know. 

Many of Jack's previous hockey teammates were in this year's draft. And how proud of and thrilled we are for all of them. Some of his best buddies were recruited by NHL teams - sooooo impressive!!! And so exciting for them and their families. Congrats to Ryan, Jack, Miguel, Keegan, Tyler, Luc, Steven and all of the other guys from Minnesota. Quite an impressive amount of recruits from our "State of Hockey!" 

It was one of those times when you have a lump in your throat, yet you're so happy for Jack's friends. It was a reality check for us. It's been two-and-a-half years since Jack was paralyzed. We initially cried as we watch his hockey dreams come to a crushing halt. But the overwhelming support, amazing opportunities, and incredible people that have penetrated our lives made it all okay. 

But those initial feelings seemed to creep back into my mind and heart this weekend. As the names of the latest draftees were running across the TV, I looked out the bedroom window and saw Jack sitting on the deck in his power chair, soaking up the sun and gazing into the distance. Reality hit me hard. 

Reason #Three. We've got a long road to recovery in front of us. And the best of dreams had to be set aside. Yet I do bel13ve Jack has a promising future ahead of him. He's shifted his hockey skills from the ice to the broadcasting arena. Or maybe he'll be a GM of an NHL team some day. He's going to do well. Very, very well. Just in a different way than he had dreamed. And that's okay. It has to be. 

Like the song says, "I just want to see you smile." And that's all that matters. 

Keep smiling Jack. Keep smiling. 

Love you. 

One and Done

I know, I know, it's late, I should be in bed. Beside's having a twitter name of "Late Night Leslie" that often stands true, I'm seriously having trouble sleeping this week. Too many monumental moments to capture. 

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is Jack's LAST day as a student at BSM. It's impossible to believe how fast these four years flew by. I remember the day he went to school for freshman orientation. Dying to get my hands on the photo of Jack and Zack Hale dressed as princesses in tiaras and boas during their Link Crew Freshman Orientation. Priceless. 

But, here I sit, at this late hour, knowing that in a few hours Jack will be getting up to go to school as a student at BSM for the very last time. It's too surreal. After all we've been through with the BSM community, we certainly are not ready to say goodbye. We're not ready to watch this great group of friends head in different directions. But, here we are…guess it's time to say goodbye. Or, as I prefer to say, see you soon. 

At least we have grad party season to extend the farewells. That should be fun and hopefully a meaningful way to extend the transition to the next phase. 

But I can't stop thinking about One and Done. Tomorrow. Then what?? Graduation is on May 30th. I do hope the kids have some plans up their sleeves for the time between tomorrow and graduation. 

Speaking of up his sleeves…Jack had a good one. He neglected to tell us his big news last week. Instead, he had a tidbit of info up his sleeve to share during his radio show. Knock my socks off! He revealed that he had been having lots of spasms (yes, I knew about that, I was the one tending to his discomfort from the spasms). But, what he didn't tell us was that he felt some twitching in his left leg and was able to move his left foot on command. 

My response? Holy (not cow!). This is huge. Huge. Huge in the way that it's so encouraging. Again, another physical milestone that we never expected to happen. Keep them coming Jack. But Jack, do tell mom and dad!!. And tell us before you announce it on your radio show!!

And more great news. Yesterday, the National Federation of State High School Associations adopted stricter penalties for boarding and checking from behind in high school ice hockey. Kudos to the MN State Hockey League for paving the way to enforce stricter penalties for reckless and violent play. Now, for the upcoming 2014-2015 season, all high school hockey players nationwide will abide by the more stringent penalties in an effort to minimize the risk of injury in the sport. Amen. Here's a link to KSTP TV (our local ABC station) who covered the story.

All-in-all, a fabulous last week of high school for Jack. 

And, Jack…we're SO proud of you for reaching one of your goals. We'll never forget how determined you were after your injury to catch up with your class and graduate on time. 

You. Did. It. YOU DID IT!!!

We love you. 
And congrats. 

USC…here he comes. 


Last month, Dr. Susan Harkema was featured on the Today Show to talk about the stunning findings from her research on spinal cord injury recovery using epidural stimulation.

One word describes this groundbreaking research: Hope.

Hope for the nearly six million Americans living with paralysis. Hope for Jack. 

The study found that four young men classified with a chronic motor complete spinal cord injury (just like Jack) were able to move their legs in the presence of epidural electrical stimulation. This stimulation mimics signals the brain normally transmits to re-engage the spinal cord with its neural network below the point of injury.  

Simply put, for the first time research has found a way for people living with chronic paralysis to regain what was lost. Until now, therapy has been limited to helping people live with what was lost. 

When coupled with rehabilitative therapy, the benefits of this new epidural stimulation method are intensified. In addition to regaining voluntary movement in their hips, knees, ankles and toes, the first four research participants have shown a myriad of improvements in their overall health, including increased muscle mass, improved regulation of their blood pressure, reduced fatigue, and the ability to bear weight independently . . . stand! 

They each also regained bowel, bladder and sexual function. 

How AMAZING is that? 

We've been following Dr. Harkema and her clinical study for quite some time. In fact, the Jack Jablonski BEL13VE in Miracles Foundation raised funds for Dr. Harkema and her research at our gala last summer. We even had the pleasure of meeting Rob Summers, the first participant to have the epidural stimulator implanted near his spine, when he attended and spoke at our gala. 

Then, last December, Dr. Anne Moore (a close friend and member of our Board) and I flew to Louisville to meet Dr. Harkema and Dustin Shillcox, one of the four participants in the study. We witnessed him move his legs on command and saw him stand. My eyes filled with tears as we watched this incredible moment. I shut my eyes and envisioned Jack doing the very same thing. Some day. We hope. We pray.

The incredible news of this significant research spread through the media in April. Here are links to two local news stations that interviewed Jack and his reaction to the study: KARE 11 (NBC)  KSTP (ABC)

We're on a mission to bring a sense of urgency to moving this epidural stimulation research forward. Why? Because it takes 100 research participants to seek FDA approval. Our dream is to see Jack and everyone else living with paralysis regain what they've lost as soon as possible

Currently, Jack is not enrolled in the study, but we hope and pray that he will be some day. Shortly after he was injured, Jack said he'll prove the doctors wrong. He will and this research gives him and others the most hope in doing so.