Support for paralyzed H.S. hockey player "Jabby" goes digital, global

“The reaction is because of Jabby himself.
He’s one of the nicest people around.”
John Dierks, a classmate of Jack Jablonski
Photo courtesy of The Jack Jablonski Fund

Even Charlie Sheen was asked through Twitter to support injured Benilde-St. Margaret’s hockey player Jack Jablonski.

Jablonski was injured Dec. 30 during a high school hockey game against Wayzata High School. He is most likely paralyzed, but news outlets reported Jan. 9 that Jablonski moved his right arm below the triceps, which his mother said in a news conference that he isn’t supposed to be able to do. He also moved his left arm away from his body.

News of Jablonski’s injury elicited a huge outpouring of support last week, mostly through social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Students, friends and classmates across the state have changed their Facebook profile pictures to a logo showing Jablonski’s name and jersey number. Students across the state and country have been participating in a “white out” — wearing white to school to show support for Jablonski, who’s called “Jabby” by friends.

As of Feb. 1, a Facebook fan page for Jablonski had received more than 68,000 “likes” and a tribute video on YouTube has been viewed more than 250,000 times. The video, made by a high school student named Taylor who does not personally know Jablonski, includes footage of local media reports about the accident.

Two players checked Jablonski from behind 9 minutes before the end of the game. When he hit the boards, his fifth cervical vertebra moved in front of his sixth vertebra and caused an acute spinal cord injury. This prevents the nerves from communicating, and prevents movement.

Jablonski underwent two surgeries, one to prevent a stroke and one to fuse two vertebrae. His neurosurgeon, Dr. Walter Galicich, told the Star Tribune that it is unlikely Jablonski will walk again.

CaringBridge – a nonprofit organization that allows people to create websites that keep family and friends informed about a person’s health issues – has received 359 donations for Jablonski.

Jenna Privette, a hockey player from St. Croix Lutheran, dedicated her Friday night game Jan. 6 to Jack Jablonski. She was also checked from behind and reinjured her spinal cord — she’d been out of games due to a previous injury until recently — and she’s also lost feeling in her legs, according to media reports.

Facebook support pages have also been started for Privette. Her current Facebook profile picture is an image of Jablonski’s jersey number. Many teens on Facebook have made their profile picture a tribute to both Jablonski and Privette’s jersey numbers.

Another website has been started to raise funds for Jack Jablonski’s recovery, www.jabby13.com.

“I think it’s incredible,” said Benilde student John Dierks, a friend and classmate of Jablonski’s. “The reaction is because of Jabby himself. He’s one of the nicest people around.”

In a post on Jablonski’s Caring Bridges website, the family reacted to the nationwide show of support.

“Words cannot express our gratitude for the global support that Jack has received,” a post on the website said. “ Keep your thoughts and prayers coming.”

Facebook is filled with statuses from students encouraging their classmates to participate.

Some of these efforts, however, have met with resistance.

“I’ve heard some resentment from people who don’t know (Jablonski),” Dierks said.

“They say things along the lines of ‘You don’t know him so stop acting like you do.’ But they don’t really get it. You don’t have to know someone to pray for them,” he said.

St. Louis Park High School student Ryan Wheeler said he thinks the show of sympathy is a nice thought, but worries people are doing it for the wrong reasons.

“I think it’s sort of a step in the right direction, but kids use it as an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon,” he said. “If people really want to help out they should send him a card directly or visit him.”

Jablonski’s parents have requested no visits on the CaringBridge website to give their son time to heal from surgery.

Mounds View High School student Kayla Farhang said she thinks support is important no matter from whom it’s coming.

“It’s good to know you have support when you get into a situation like that,” she said. “It’s nice to know people are there for you even if they don’t know you.”

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