Star studded weekend: Teen hockey player returns to the rink following stroke
Despite being surrounded by NHL stars, an 18-year-old from St. John's was the one who stole the show at a local charity hockey tournament this weekend. That's because it was his first time taking to the ice since suffering a stroke more than two years ago.
Jordan Chaulk was one of about 150 players to take part in the third annual Hickman's Hockey Heroes Weekend in Paradise.
His first, number one goal was to play hockey again. It was his one passion.- Katie Greene, Heart and Stroke Foundation
The tournament aims to raise money for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Thirteen NHL alumni took part, including big names like Adam Oates, Paul Coffey and Deer Lake's Darren Langdon.
Despite the famous faces, many eyes were focused on Chaulk. After 27 months and 3,000 hours of rehabilitation, he laced up his skates and made his return to the ice.
"It's been a long road," Chaulk told CBC News on Sunday.
"It felt pretty shaky at first, but then it felt pretty good. I like the atmosphere, it's good people."
The teen was, in fact, playing hockey when he had the stroke.
It all started when he began having difficulty skating backwards — a crucial move for a defenseman — followed by a pain in his temple. Chaulk collapsed shortly thereafter.
He said he still undergoes daily rehabilitation, occupational therapy and physiotherapy.
"I'd rather be able to share my story and get it out there because, when it happened to me, no one was thinking of a stroke," Chaulk said.
The teen said, because of his young age, no one believed that it was a stroke, despite him having all the symptoms.
Chaulk has also been working hard in the classroom. While he missed a lot of time from school, he said he's caught up on the curriculum and will graduate alongside his friends in June.
"It's a pretty remarkable feeling."
Katie Greene, a fund development coordinator with the foundation, said it was an emotional weekend for everyone involved.
"His first, number one goal was to play hockey again. It was his one passion," she said of Chaulk.
"He's a great story. He's doing really, really well this weekend and having a great time with his team."
Greene said the weekend tournament wraps up months of fundraising efforts that have brought in more than $225,000.
"It's for a great cause and it's going to go help everyone in our province get over heart disease — it's one of the leading cause of death in our province."
As for Chaulk, the teen said he plans to continue working with the foundation this summer.
"I mean, if it could only help one other person than I have done my job," he said.