MILTON, Mass. — Two high school hockey teams came together on the ice Wednesday after a player on each team suffered a severe spinal cord injury this year.
Bishop Feehan High School hockey families together donated about $3,000 to go toward the recovery of Milton Academy hockey player Jake Thibeault, who was paralyzed from the waist down after crashing into the boards last month.
Thibeault, of Fitchburg, is currently in rehab, determined to walk again. His tragic injury occurred a little more than eight months after Bishop Feehan player AJ Quetta also crashed into the boards and suffered a spinal cord injury in January.
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Bishop Feehan players traveled to Milton Wednesday to present the check to Thibeault’s team and skate together at Ulin Memorial Rink.
“Both [are] really hardworking kids, great kids, someone you want to get to know,” said senior Bishop Feehan captain Shane Walsh, who has played with both teens in the past. “We knew we wanted to get behind [Jake].”
Thibeault’s injury hit close to home for Bishop Feehan families, who, after receiving an email from the hockey coach, didn’t hesitate to chip in and help the family, hockey dad Mike Findlen told Boston 25 News.
“The Feehan parents got together and they said, ‘Let’s make a donation to go toward Jake because we know what that family is going through and what Jake is going through,’” Findlen said. “When something like this happens – opponents or teammates – it doesn’t matter, everybody joins together. It’s all about the hockey community.”
Milton Academy hockey coach Paul Cannata told Boston 25 News all his players practice and play hard, but the strength and dedication of these two young men determined to walk again are unmatched.
“What Jake and AJ are battling and the people who work with them on a daily basis at those hospitals and facilities is humbling,” Cannata said.
Saturday is AJ’s 19th birthday, teammates said. They hope this year he celebrates big milestones in his recovery.
A GoFundMe account for Thibeault had raised more than $450,000 by Wednesday. A GoFundMe account in support of Quetta raised more than $1 million while it was active.
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