Four months ago, a Michigan teen was paralyzed during a hockey game.
Despite the life-altering injury, Dakota (Macomb, Mich.) junior Anthony Mastronardi is determined in his resolve to walk again.
Mastronardi injured his spinal cord when he went headfirst into the boards during a game.
“You don’t plan for it,” Mastronardi’s father, Al, told WJBK-TV, “They hit the boards hard and there was just no time to react.”
“The puck was kind of going slow, just enough for us to get to it,” Anthony told WJBK. “And we got intertwined and I hit the boards, looked up and I couldn’t move.”
Since then, he has tirelessly worked to regain his mobility and strength.
“When he first came in, he couldn’t really move his arms at all,” Jessica Sesta, a clinical specialist who worked with Mastronardi at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, told WDIV. “As we worked through therapy, his arms got stronger.
“He comes to therapy with an open mind and positive attitude every single day.”
Per WDIV, the 17-year-old Mastronardi was recently released and rejoined his three younger siblings back at the family’s home in Macomb Township. He is now an outpatient at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan.
“I got put in this position. I have no choice but to be positive,” Mastronardi said. “There’s no point in being in this position and being miserable. That’s no way to live.”
Mastronardi’s mother, SarahAnne, said he’s been an inspiration to her and to the entire family.
“He has not complained once or asked, ‘Why him?'” she said. “Just like he lived life before. He gets up and does what he has to do.”
On Sunday night, the Red Wings alumni will play a game against senior hockey players from area schools with funds raised going toward benefitting Mastronardi’s recovery. Mastronardi will drop the puck at the game.
“I did write something and put it on the wall,” Mastronardi told WDIV. “Every day I look at it. It says, ‘I will walk.’ I look at it and then I go to therapy.”