MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s not quite the way he envisioned, but Jack Jablonski is headed to the Class AA Boys State Hockey Tournament next week.
The 16-year-old was at Mariucci Arena Wednesday night as his Benilde-St. Margaret’s Red Knights beat Minnetonka 5-1 in the Section 6AA Championship game.
We’ve seen a lot of him at games recently, but we haven’t really learned about his progress or motivation until tonight. I was there for progress and insight into a boy miracle.
We met Jack as he was driving down the hall following his afternoon therapy session. He did something new this day. It was exciting and it was progress.
“We hooked electric stimulators up it would basically send electronically it would bypass the spine and the electricity reacts and builds the cells back up,” said Jack.
He also experienced a new sensation.
“When someone was like pushing on it or something, I was able to feel pressure on my ankle area which I wasn’t able to feel before when she was pushing on my ankle. And that was the first time today? Yeah, and that was really good news, and it was up around my shin too,” Jack said.
“It’s kind of like every day there’s a new little miracle, he’s continuing to do things he shouldn’t medically been able to do,” said his mom Leslie Jablonski.
Out of necessity, he’s learning more about the human body than he ever imagined.
“It’s been unbelievable what I’ve learned not only just about the spinal cord but medicine that just as a regular teenager no one has a clue about,” Jack said.
Academically, socially and athletically, Jack has been a leader. A hockey injury put the focus on him, but he also played baseball and went 15-1 as a varsity tennis player last year.
His background as a multi-sport athlete is having a direct effect on his approach to rehab.
“No matter how hard you fall it’s all about if you can get back up just as quick. There’s always another day to get better, and the more you do now they more it will pay off later in life. It’s just like hockey in the off-season,” Jack said.
Good teams rally when things go bad, just like Jack’s friends have rallied around him. Many strangers have too. His room at Sister Kenny Rehabilitation is a shrine to hockey, friendship, love and prayer.
It keeps Jack and the Jablonski family going.
“A lot of it is friends and family who are always here supporting, and just seeing my friends walking in a smiling it reminds all that I have,” said Jack.
One thing he has is a caring, and funny little brother. They say their relationship has actually grown since Jack got hurt.
Max is only 13, but jumped right into spread his brother’s story worldwide.
“You know people joke around that I’m the CEO. I kind of run a lot of Jacks social media his Twitter, Facebook and all that stuff,” Max said.
Max also seems to be the unofficial archivist of Jack’s room, keeping track of everything, especially anything having to do with hockey.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s hockey coach Ken Pauly loves to visit, but he also wants Jack’s advice. No. 13 was at the last two games, and coach Pauly wants to know what he saw that could help his team.
“On individual players he sees it and he knows, so as a hockey mind he’s twice the player I was so I give him an ‘A,'” Pauly said.
The handsome and smart teenager has changed. Circumstances have ushered maturity in and adolescence out.
“I’ve seen a different side of him since this happened. I always knew he was funny but he’s really funny and witty. I see the kid that everybody told us he was. He makes people laugh he makes them feel good. He’s a nice guy,” Leslie said.
In his eighth grade yearbook Jack wrote, “I don’t believe in miracles, I rely on them.” You wonder if he knew he would need to rely on them so soon.
“Long term is to walk. You know it’s a ways down but it will happen, I know it will. I’m working towards that to be a miracle,” Jack said.
It’s easy to see why his story gathered worldwide attention. Jack is smart and charming and makes people feel good.
We are excited to emcee a benefit for Jack and his family. “JabbyFest” is Sunday at the Fine Line Music Cafe in Minneapolis. Tickets are $25 and the doors open at 6 p.m. The event will feature music by Rocket Club, The Mellvilles and The Belfast Cowboys.