Jack Jablonski #13
Jack Jablonski dreamed of becoming a professional hockey player. He was in his first pair of hockey skates at three. At the age of 15 he had a 50-goal season while leading his Bantam A team to the Minnesota State Tournament. The next year he scored a coveted spot on the Benilde-St. Margaret’s high school varsity hockey team.
On December 30, 2011, Jack was hit from behind during a high school hockey game. He suffered two fractured vertebrae in his neck and completely severed his spinal cord at the C5 level, resulting in quadriplegia. While lying motionless on the ice, Jack told his parents he couldn’t feel anything; he couldn’t move his legs. He was instantly paralyzed.
The First Miracle.
As news of Jack’s injury spread, the outpouring of support from around the world was amazing.
Thousands posted good wishes on Facebook; his story was trending on Twitter; his CaringBridge site exploded with visits; students in schools across the country held white-outs; his jersey number #13 surfaced everywhere as a symbol of hope and determination.
Youth hockey associations sold wristbands by the tens of thousands. The MN Wild dedicated Hockey Day Minnesota to support for Jack. NHL legends such as Wayne Gretsky, Bobby Orr, Jeremy Roenick, Alexander Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Zach Parise, Pavel Datsyuk, and many, many more reached out with personal calls of support. NHL players visited. Every NHL team sent a jersey.
The Minnesota Twins and Vikings also embraced Jack with their support.
Jack greeted this non-stop flow with his now-famous smile, his sense of humor, his upbeat nature and a desire to comfort others as reality set in. Many told this sixteen-year-old boy that he had become an inspiration for them.
When doctors told him he would never walk, Jack replied “I am going to skate again.” His determination to “prove the doctors wrong” empowers him to make remarkable progress on his road to recovery.
The Second Miracle – Getting Ready for Recovery.
After months in the hospital, Jack started intense physical therapy at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute.
Thanks to pioneering changes to SCI therapy lead by Christopher Reeve, the ABLE (Activity-Based Locomotor Exercise) program was there for Jack to begin regaining his strength, and recovering what was lost to his injury. A part of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation NeuroRecovery Network, ABLE offers an innovative approach to therapy that has helped Jack improve his health, fitness, strength and quality of life. Locomotor Therapy
The Next Miracle – Recovering What Has Been Lost.
The belief that paralysis is permanent has been challenged by recent advances in recovery research.
For the first time ever, medical journals have published research result documenting the progress of four young men with chronic (3+ years) paralysis who are regaining abilities once considered permanently lost when their spinal cords were injured. Using an implanted electrical stimulator, each has regained the ability to move their feet and legs as well as stand on their own for short periods. Each has also regained bowel and bladder control, sexual function, body temperature regulation, and even touch sensation below the point of their injury. Epidural Stimulation
Programs like ABLE are essential to preparing participants for this remarkable new ‘miracle’ of recovery.
Helping Jack Help Others.
Jeremy Roenick (NHL star now with NBC Sports) inspired Jack to help others. He told him during one of his many visits with Jack, “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
On the first anniversary of his injury, Jack announced the creation of the Jack Jablonski BEL13VE in Miracles Foundation. Its purpose is to raise awareness and funds to advance recovery for everyone living with a spinal cord injury. About Us
The foundation funds BEL13VER scholarships to help others gain access to the ABLE program and provides grants to accelerate recovery research.
Within days after Jablonski’s injury, the Minnesota State High School Hockey League implemented stricter penalties for checking from behind and boarding. By May 2014, the National Federation of State High School Associations adopted the same tougher rules to make the game of hockey safer. The changes, which begin with the 2014-2015 season, govern play in 17 states that offer hockey. The decision to implement tougher penalties is considered to be an unprecedented move in the high school hockey arena.
Jack’s New Normal.
Jack has come a long way since December 30, 2011.
He’s accepted his “new normal” and is determined to live a full life. As the 2013-2014 NHL hockey season launched, so did “Hockey Night in Minnesota with Jack Jablonski,” a weekly broadcast Jack hosts on 105 The Ticket Sports Radio with co-hosts Mike Morris and Bob Sansevere. Prior to his weekly stint on 105 The Ticket, Jack hosted “Jack in the Box,” a weekly podcast on KFAN Sports Radio. It’s no surprise that Jack is pursuing a career in broadcast journalism and will be attending the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism at the University of Southern California.
Perhaps Jablonski’s Twitter profile best describes his determination and goal to walk and skate again: “Paralyzed hockey player. Won’t be forever. #BEL13VE.”
We BEL13VE in Miracles.
Some of Jack's recognition and awards.
Jack has been recognized with many honors over the past two years.
- 2012 CBS Courage in Sports winner;
- Named one of the Star Tribune’s “Top 12 Sports Stories in 2012.”
- Named one of Minnesota Monthly’s “Twin Cities Most Influential People” in 2013.
- U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame awarded him the “Spirit of Life” award in 2012
- “Honorary Captain” award from the Hobey Baker organization 2012.
- Awarded with the 2014 Benilde-St. Margaret’s Boys’ Hockey “Hobey Baker Character/Sportsmanship Award”
- One of six recipients of the Benilde-St. Margaret’s prestigious “President’s Award.”
- Graduated in June 2014 with his high school class, a goal he had set shortly after his injury.
- Recipient of a Swim With Mike college scholarship for physically challenged athletes attending USC.
Sampling of media coverage.
His story has been featured on ABC-TV; CBS-TV; CNN; NBC-TV; NBC Sports; FOX TV; Fox Sports North; NHL Network; ESPN; ESPN Radio; WCCO Radio; 105 The Ticket; K-Fan; K-Twin; Sports Illustrated; USA Today; New York Daily News; The Huffington Post, Let’s Play Hockey; Hockey News; Ellen DeGeneres’ blog, and all Twin Cities regional broadcast and print media,
just to name a few.
Jablonski has over 53.5 thousand followers on Twitter (@Jabs_13) and over 2.3 million visits to his CaringBridge site.