MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The most powerful moment of Saturday night’s Wild game may have been between periods–in the stands.
It involves the tradition of hockey players tapping their sticks on the ice when a player is seriously hurt.
Wild fans used a little hot air on a chilly night for a good cause.
“It’s never been done before,” said Jack Jablonksi.
Fans prepared their thunder sticks so they could be a part of history.
“I think it’s long overdue that I’m part of history,” said one hockey fan.
Hockey’s stick tap is a sign on the ice of respect and encouragement.
“It makes me feel really good to know that we’re all going to support that today,” one fan said.
Jablonski teamed up with the Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Hockey to make Saturday night’s gala possible.
An illegal check from behind left the former Benilde-St. Margaret’s hockey player paralyzed.
After the first period, Jablonski and company led the crowd in the biggest stick tap in history.
More than 20,000 fans all tapped their sticks to help promote recovery for the 1.3 million Americans living with a spinal cord injury.
“There are things in Louisville at the University of Louisville that Dr. Susan Harkeman is doing that are very positive and have shown tremendous recovery so far, “ Jablonski said.
Jack has been passionate about sharing these advances since the hockey injury that left him a quadriplegic in 2011.
He says this work is his way of giving back.
“It’s important to me because of the opportunities I have been given, I want to give and help other people who don’t have that opportunity,” Jablonski said.
Jack says research in new recovery therapy is something he is counting on to help fulfill a promise he made to himself and others that he will one day do more than just walk again.
“I’m gonna skate,” he said. “It’s a matter of time. No matter how long it takes, I’ll be there one day.”
Money raised Saturday night goes to help pay for an expansion of the ABLE Therapy Facility at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Golden Valley.
It will make it the largest facility of its kind in North America.
Jack says Saturday’s historic stick tap is just the beginning.