Monroe Rallies Around Injured Teen Hockey Player [AUDIO]
Tragedy struck the Nichols family Jan. 4 when their beloved 17-year-old son Michael broke his neck during a game.
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The severe injury happened when the Monroe High School assistant captain was hit from behind by a Vernon player into the boards headfirst at the Skylands Ice World Arena in Sussex County. Michael was airlifted to Morristown Memorial Hospital, where he has been receiving treatment since for the fractured C5 vertebrae injury.
His family has sat at his bedside every day while the recovery continues.
It's been an obviously tough time for his parents, Steven and Christine, as they tend to their injured son, which has meant having to miss work and keep some sense of normalcy for their other children, who are 11 and 14-years-old.
"It's been very difficult to watch our son be put into a situation in which he can't move and has to be connected to all kinds of tubes," Steven said.
Steven expressed his gratitude for the outpouring of support that he and his family have received during this challenging process.
"Everybody's support, the support of community, statewide has been fantastic," Nicholas said. "It really does help us get through each and every day."
The amount of support was overwhelming for the Nichols, at first, with thousands of text messages and well-wishes coming through from all walks of life. Steven is appreciative of it, though, and thinks it's uplifting for Michael.
"When he gets to see the outpouring of support that's coming, I know it's going to help brighten his day, as it does help brighten my wife and I's day," he said.
As a way to keep communication with the public about Michael's condition, the family has taken to Facebook to give updates on their son during this long recovery process. A GiveForward page has been set up to raise money for the Nichols'. More than $60,000 has been contributed so far.
Steven said they face many impending expenses to fit their home and adapt it for Michael's injuries and the various resources he will need on a daily basis.
A fundraiser alumni hockey game has been organized for Saturday, January 25th at the Ocean Ice Palace in Brick, NJ. The event takes place at 4 p.m.
Michael's father repeatedly reiterated how much the community's support has meant to their family, especially the love that's been felt around Monroe.
"It's an amazing, amazing thing and we thank everybody so very, very much from the bottom of our hearts," he said. "Words can't express our gratitude."
Steven had one final request for supporters.
"And keep on giving Michael best wishes because without those, we cant get through any day. Their best wishes and their prayers help each day get a little bit better than the day before."