If you were looking for a feel-good story today, look no further than the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League, who selected Jack Jablonski with the final pick of this year's USHL draft.
Why is this significant? Because Jablonski suffered spinal cord damage during a hockey game in December of 2011 as a high school sophomore and has been fighting to recover from his injury ever since.
On Monday, Jablonski had a little fun on Twitter, reminding teams in the USHL that he was available to be drafted:
Dear USHL teams, Just thought I'd let u know I am eligible for tomorrow's draft. Sincerely Jack Jablonski— Jack Jablonski (@Jabs_13) May 7, 2013
The Steel took notice, announcing they had selected Jablonski:
With the final pick the Steel draft Jack Jablonski. Congrats @jabs_13 on becoming a member of the Steel!— Chicago Steel (@ChicagoSteel) May 8, 2013
Not surprisingly, Jablonski was thrilled and tweeted the following:
Best night ever. #steel— Jack Jablonski (@Jabs_13) May 8, 2013
Jablonski and his remarkable recovery have been quite the inspiration for others, including Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who had the following to say about him in December (via the Pioneer Press):
He's inspirational—way more significant than my situation.
To have the condition he's had and to be able to overcome it, slowly, but overcome it, it takes willpower. It's the same thing I used, but even more so on a different level. When you look at that, it definitely makes you feel more positive.
For an idea of how far Jablonski has progressed, here is a video in the aftermath of his spinal cord injury:
Here is how far he has come since:
According to Ryan Dadoun of Pro Hockey Talk, Jablonski is serving as a student-assistant coach for the Benilde-St. Margaret's hockey team. Despite not being able to play, he has found a way to remain involved in the sport he loves.
And the Steel found a way to honor his resilience and passion for hockey.
The gesture was reminiscent of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signing Eric LeGrand in May of 2012 after the player suffered a tragic spinal cord injury in 2010 while playing for Rutgers under coach Greg Schiano.
Like the Steel drafting Jablonski, that gesture was certainly symbolic, but it too was a fantastic moment of kindness and quite the honor.
Kudos to the Steel for their selection of Jablonski, and here's to hoping his rehabilitation continues to progress.