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Jack Jablonski: Minnesota Hockey Player Continues to Improve, Inspire After Injury

Jabs, a student at Benilde-St. Margaret's School, sustained a spinal cord injury in December 2011. Since then his story has inspired hockey lovers in the state and U.S.

Patch websites around the country this week will be featuring people who have overcome obstacles in life.

There are many noteworthy examples in Minnesota. This article focuses on Jack Jablonski, a Benilde-St. Margaret's School (BSM) hockey player who was injured in an on-ice incident in December 2011. This story is running on all Patch sites in Minnesota.

On Sunday Jack's mom, that he will be a captain next season for BSM's hockey team. 

To remind readers of how far he has come, we are re-featuring a story from April 2012. This story followed his discharge from the Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute.

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As the elevator doors opened, a gathering crowd in the lobby of the Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Minneapolis eagerly watched. When Jack Jablonski came out along with his family, those watching began to applaud.

After nearly four months spent at a hospital or in rehab, Jablonski was discharged on Wednesday.

Jablonski, a Benilde-St. Margaret's sophomore hockey player, sustained a serious spinal cord injury during a game on Dec. 30. He was immediately rushed to the Hennepin County Medical Center, where he spent the next few weeks. In late January, he was transferred to Sister Kenny, where he has been ever since.

Now, he's ready for what he and his family are calling the "next step," which includes outpatient rehab at the Courage Center and living in an accessible apartment with his family while their home is renovated to better fit Jablonski.

“It’s exciting," Jablonski said of leaving Sister Kenny. "It’s obviously bittersweet, but it’s the next step, and time to move on.”

Jablonski will now have outpatient rehab about three to four times per week, and he will continue working on regaining strength and mobility, though doctors say he is unlikely to walk again.

Jablonski's mom, Leslie Jablonski, said regardless of the prognosis, Jack has made incredible strides so far.

"What they’ve done here at Sister Kenny has been phenomenal," she said. "We were definitely in the right place. It’s hard to leave.”

Jack also noted that it would be hard to leave the nurses and therapists he's become so close with at Sister Kenny over the past few months.

“It’s been emotional. They’re all friends," he said. "But it’s time now.”

Jablonski's story has touched people across the world, including many in the National Hockey League. His CaringBridge website has nearly 950 pages of messages and almost 1.1 million visitors. Friends of the Jablonski family created a website—jabby13.com—for fundraising and information on upcoming events.

Jablonski also proved to be an inspirational figure for the BSM boys hockey team, as the Red Knights marched to a state championship. Along the way, he celebrated on-ice when BSM upset Minnetonka in the section finals, then cheered his team on from the stands at the Xcel Energy Center.

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Since April 2012, Jabs crawled and stood with assistance, returned to school, held the Stanley Cup, won Sports America's Courage in Sports award and met "The Boss."

If you have worked to overcome something in your life, tell us in the comments. We want to hear about your challenges and triumphs.

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