On Friday, the Columbus Blue Jackets held their annual Hockey Is For Everyone night and the hockey world met a determined and driven youth hockey player.
Charlie Cook, who plays with Columbus Special Hockey, was introduced to the crowd during the Blue Jackets’ starting lineup announcements. Charlie lined up next to captain Nick Foligno.
Charlie suffered a stroke in utero and his parents were told a decade ago it was unlikely that he would survive, and if he did, that he would have limited to no independent movement. “We were told by the doctors that he probably wouldn’t be able to walk on his own or do anything else,” Valerie Cook, Charlie’s mom said.
Now 10-years-old, Charlie plays hockey with a specially crafted walker for the Ben Kyler coached Columbus Special Hockey team.
“I saw my brother playing it and I was like ‘Yeah I’m gonna play it,'” Charlie said in a video released by the Blue Jackets.
The video documented Charlie’s journey and showed him and his older brother on the ice, playing hockey together.
“The biggest thing with Charlie is he’s an active kid who is full of life and very inspiring,” Paul Cook, Charlie’s dad said.
“He brings a smile to everybody’s face.” Coach Kyler said. “He’s excited about a lot of things and he works very hard at it because he’s had to overcome a lot to get to where he is.”
The Columbus Special Hockey program is run in partnership with the American Special Hockey Association and USA Hockey. They provide children and adults with developmental disabilities the opportunity to skate and play hockey in an adaptable environment to each individual athlete’s ability level.
“Yeah,” Charlie added. “Pretty much everyone can play hockey.”
The Blue Jackets’ Hockey Is For Everyone celebrations also included select players using Pride Tape during pregame warmups and the Columbus Gay Men’s Chorus joining Blue Jackets anthem singer Leo Welsh to perform.
Headline photo courtesy of the NHL
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