You never know how strong a person is until they are really tested. For Jack Kelm of Deloraine, that day came on July 21, 2018 when he was seriously injured in a car accident. The good news was Jack was going to live but the bad news was he sustained permanent paralysis. Through surgery repairs to his spine, steely determination, and incredible support from those closest to him, Jack prevailed! And now, seven months later, he is playing sledge hockey!
Jack’s grandparents Grant and Gail Cassils (and other family members) travelled to Minneapolis to watch Jack play in the annual Hendrickson Foundation sledge hockey tournament February 22-24 held at the Schwan’s Superrink in Blaine. This is the biggest hockey facility in the world being 300,000 square ft and includes eight rinks under one roof – all connected without going outdoors and totally wheelchair accessible. “The tournament was started by Larry Hendrickson who passed way last year but the tournament is being carried on by his family.
The following are some comments from Hendrickson about the tournament:
“This weekend is an opportunity for us to celebrate how Hockey Changes Lives. Since the start of our time working on the Hendrickson Foundation, we have adhered to a simple truth: hockey players are hockey players, period. This means that while everyone on the ice this weekend has different issues they’re dealing with in life, the reasons they love hockey are universal. Simply put, the Hendrickson Foundation has always looked to celebrate what makes us the same, not different. This lesson has served us well and helps us make decisions under our core belief that Hockey Changes Lives.”
Coach Hendy (1942-2018)
Participating teams were from Wisconsin, Florida, Carolina, Texas, Kansas, Michigan, North Dakota, Illinois and Manitoba – with Adult, Youth, Special as well as exhibition Youth and Adult Blind Hockey. There was also a celebrity hockey game on Saturday afternoon featuring alumni sports figures from more than hockey.
“It was Jack’s first ever sledge hockey game and he had a great time, not only playing the game but also associating with a whole new group of friends who had disabilities of every different kind and not limited to spinal cord injuries. We were quite surprised to see that this is full contact hockey with lots of body checking. There were actually some penalties handed out for roughing!” said Grandpa Grant.
Manitoba played Carolina Hurricanes and won 7-4, Rochester Mustangs and won 9-1 and finally 4-0 over the Hope team from Fargo. “That put us up against the host Minnesota Wild in the gold medal game. It was an unbelievable game that went three periods, 5 minutes of overtime and then to the fifth shooter in a shootout before the wild finally scored to win gold.”
Jack’s family report a great exhibition of skills and sportsmanship displayed by a group of people from far and wide.
Jack travels to Winnipeg most weekends for practice, making this a huge commitment for Jack and his parents.
Hockey Changes Lives.