Jablonski walks in treadmill walkathon for spinal cord injury therapy

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Jack Jablonski, the former Benilde-St. Margaret’s high school student who was paralyzed during a junior varsity high school hockey game in 2011, participated in a treadmill walkathon to raise money for research and therapy for people with spinal cord injuries and paralysis.

Jablonski and 15 other patients at the Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute participated in the "Walk to Victory over Paralysis" Saturday, WCCO reports. The event raises money for the Reeve Foundation and the ABLE program at Courage Kenny, where Jablonski goes for therapy.

"It's all for a good cause. I enjoy doing this anyway, and it's a fun type of therapy," Jablonski told WCCO. "It's definitely nice getting up and seeing how tall you are."

With the assistance of four specially trained therapists – two to move Jablonski's legs, another to stand behind him and help support him in an upright position, and one to monitor the movement on a computer, Jablonski was able to walk on the treadmill, according to a post on his CaringBridge page.

This kind of therapy is part of Courage Kenny's ABLE program, or activity-based locomotor exercise. The program is based on emerging research about the benefits of activating muscles and nerves to promote a greater degree of recovery in people living with paralysis, Courage Kenny says.

Courage Kenny is the only facility in the state that offers this kind of therapy, according to its website.

The Jablonski family says ABLE therapy has been essential to his recovery and this fundraiser will help others get access to the therapy. Since starting the program, he's regained abilities that he'd lost because of his injury, according to his CaringBridge page.

Jablonski told WCCO that although it's a tough workout, being up and walking is a "nice, relaxing feeling." Other patients said walking on the treadmill, even with assistance, is nice because "you get to be somewhat like you were before," WCCO notes.

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The 24-hour walkathon took place at all 12 of the Reeve Foundation's NeuroRecovery Network sites across the country. Hundreds of current and former patients walked for 30- or 60-minute periods on a treadmill, Courage Kenny says.

Courage Kenny, located in Golden Valley, raised over $11,000 Saturday, according to the fundraising website. Jablonski raised over $6,000 as part of the fundraiser, surpassing his goal of $1,300, the website shows. The national walkathon had a goal of raising $300,000, which it passed.

Jablonski has made tremendous steps in his recovery since the injury, and although his dreams of playing in the NHL won't become a reality, he's got a lot to look forward to. Jablonski has become a sports radio host, he graduated from Benilde this spring and plans to attend the University of Southern California.

He also still has his eye on a career in the NHL.

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