by Tim Hennagir
Blaine High School athletes, parents and community well-wishers used prayer and sang to show their support for paralyzed hockey player Jack Jablonski.
Almost 60 people gathered Jan. 5 at Bengal Stadium to form a unity circle at the 50-yard line, which was unseasonably free of winter snow.
The 10 p.m. event was organized by the Bengals Fans of Faith and Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
An e-mail message circulated among the BHS sports community helped spread the word about the event, which was attended by fans and players who arrived after that night’s Blaine/Andover hockey game.
Jablonski, a Benilde-St. Margaret’s sophomore, was hit from behind in a tournament game Dec. 30 in St. Louis Park and sustained neck and spinal cord injuries.
Gretchen Severin, Blaine Youth Hockey Association president, said earlier this week she received the e-mail about the BHS event, but was unable to attend.
“It was coordinated through the high school, but I passed the information along to our association members,” Severin said.
“We are concerned about Jack and want to do anything we can to support the Jablonski family as they go through this, because hockey is about teaching kids to be part of a team.”
Severin said that one of her hockey-playing sons had a friend attend the BHS event.
“He thought that it was really cool,” she said. “The kids in our program are coming together to support Jack in a number of ways. The girl players in our association have joined with the Benilde-St. Margaret’s girls’ hockey team and will be selling wristbands at games here and are trying to coordinate an effort to sell wristbands this weekend at a tournament up in Duluth.”
The Blaine Youth Hockey Association will likely make a cash donation to Jablonski’s family, Severin said, as well as consider sending money to the family of Jenna Privette of Lakeville, a St. Croix Lutheran High School senior who was injured Jan. 6 during a hockey game she had dedicated to Jablonski.
“With the size of our association (500 players) and the number of kids we serve, we feel that we should step forward and show our leadership,” she said.
BHS senior and Bengal football player Steve Meglen Jr. participated in the gathering.
He dedicated a short story to Jablonski as a sign of faith and support.
“I’ve never met him, but I’m an athlete such as him and that [type of] injury could have happened to me or any of my friends,” Meglen wrote in an e-mail.
The story Meglen read was called “Fisherman.”
It was about an old man who goes through life battling setbacks such as skin cancer and a broken back.
“The man has a heart of gold and does the best he can in life,” Meglen said, recalling the story.
“No matter what happens in your life, you must get over it and do the best you can. It will be tough for Jack to live life the right way. But if he doesn’t give up and surrounds himself with great people, there is nothing he can’t do.”
At a news conference Jan. 5, doctors reported Jablonski had movement in only his right shoulder and bicep, but otherwise was not able to move his arms or legs.
However, two days later, Jablonski’s mother told reporters that her son was able to move both arms.
That update was released before the team’s Saturday hockey game.
Meglen and friends Mandee Tjosvold, Brittany Muehlbaur and Aron Shamilov have organized a wristband drive to help offset Jablonski’s long-term medical expenses.
According to Meglen’s Facebook page, the first 4,000 bracelets for Blaine distribution are scheduled to arrive Saturday, Jan. 14. Wristbands will cost $3.
Fund-raiser proceeds collected by BHS students will be forwarded to Jablonski’s family.
Tim Hennagir is at