Meet Jackson, our 2020 RMHC®Hockey Challenge Honorary Captain!
As soon as Jackson was walking, he was learning how to skate and play hockey. From a young age, Jackson’s father coached and helped him with all of the ins and outs in his pursuit of a career in hockey. Jackson has always worked and trained tremendously hard in the sport, with just as much devotion to academics, and was well on his way in pursuing his hockey dreams when his life suddenly changed course last fall.
Boise, Idaho is home to Jackson and his family, but Jackson was living in Colorado with a billet family (families that host hockey players during the season) while he played with the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders, a Colorado-based, Triple-A hockey team. Last October, during a game near Colorado Springs, Jackson suffered a major collision. He was taken off the ice by stretcher and soon to the hospital by ambulance. His parents immediately flew to Colorado to be with Jackson. They were by his side when they learned that not only had Jackson had a concussion, but scans revealed a large mass growing in his brain.
Hockey was put on hold while Jackson, 16 at the time, faced off with a new challenge: a brain tumor. Treatment started quickly with the first round of chemo therapy beginning in Colorado. Jackson then moved back home to Boise, to be with his parents and three younger siblings, where he took on the next three rounds of treatment. In January, his journey took him to Seattle for Proton Therapy. Jackson and his mom, Erin, made the long drive from Idaho to Washington. As they were climbing over the mountain pass just east of the city, they received the call that a room was available for them at Seattle’s Ronald McDonald House. Erin remembered that call well, saying, “It took a lot of stress off knowing there was a room for us.”
Once they arrived, they were able to settle in and take in the comforts of the House, number-one being the therapy dog program. Jackson is a dog lover; he can often be found relaxing with many of the dogs who regularly bring comfort to families at the House. They give a sense of home to Jackson and Erin, as they miss their dog, Langley, back in Boise. Another feature of the House that Jackson loves are the nightly dinners, his favorite being steak and potatoes.
As a trained athlete, Jackson is seasoned in keeping a busy schedule. For the time being, his schedule is busy with Proton Therapy and a disciplined studying routine while he’s away, in order to maintain his straight-A grades. Though his treatments are tiring and he misses his hockey team, family, and friends, he stays in shape with the use of the gym at the House and the local ice rink, Sno-King.
His return home and his return to hockey are both within close reach. Jackson will soon finish his treatment in Seattle and plans to celebrate with a graduation luncheon before heading back to Idaho next week. The House has provided them both the peace and support they’ve needed. Erin says, “The staff and volunteers really make you feel at home.”
Jackson’s positive outlook and dedication to both his sport and his academics are inspiring. He calmly battles a critical illness as though it’s just an interesting chapter to what he knows will be an amazing life in hockey. He has his sights set on college and playing Division I hockey.
This weekend, Jackson will be an Honorary Captain at the RMHC®Hockey Challenge and will play alongside local celebrities and former NHL players in the event’s All-Star game at accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington. The event is well-loved and supported by the community and features an entire day of hockey fun, learn more about it here.