Paralyzed Broncos defenseman Straschnitzki refuses to give up on hockey dream

Just hours after surgery, the 18 year old is planning a career in Olympic sledge hockey.

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Humboldt Broncos defenseman Ryan Straschnitzki may never walk again, but he considers himself one of the lucky ones. Straschnitzki was one of the 29 members on board the Broncos’ team bus when it collided with a semi-transport truck on Northern Saskatchewan’s Highway 35 on Friday night, killing 15 individuals and injuring 14 others.

Straschnitzki underwent a successful seven hour surgery on Saturday, but was informed by doctors that he’ll likely be paralyzed from the chest down for the rest of his life. Straschnitzki will however maintain the use of his arms, neck and head. Upon emerging from surgery, Straschnitzki’s message to his family was clear: he’s not done with hockey just yet.

“He keeps wanting to try and move his legs, of course, because he wants to go back skating,” said Straschnitzki’s father Tom. “He just looked at me and his mother and he goes, ‘well, I’m gonna get onto the Olympic sledge hockey team.’

The teary eyed father added, “He’s an amazing kid, that boy.”

Straschnitzki’s mother Michelle is grateful that her son Ryan is alive “but heartbroken for the families of the lost.”

In an effort to fund Straschnitzki’s future endeavours and fulfill his Olympic dream, his boxing coach Cody Thompson has started a fundraising campaign by selling hats embroidered with the young man’s #10 and the hashtag #StrazStrong after his affectionate nickname “Straz”. The StrazStrong hats sell for $35 and can be purchased by emailing the funds to using the security question ‘Humboldt’ and the answer of ‘Broncos,’ Thompson said.

“We want to do something that ensures that if there’s a chance Ryan’s can ever get to a point where he can play hockey again, that decision isn’t made based on a bank account,” he said.

Please, if you can, let’s make this kid’s dreams a reality. If you have the means to donate, consider purchasing a hat to help support this young man during the most difficult time in his life. Hopefully, out of this terrible tragedy and Olympic hero is born.

Talk about a true inspiration. Keep fighting Ryan and NEVER give up on your dreams. The entire hockey community will be following your future career closely. Go get 'em, kid.