Injured Teen Determined to Play Hockey Again [AUDIO]
A Central New Jersey high school hockey player who was paralyzed after suffering a devastating spinal cord injury during a game last winter is finally back home, after spending five months in intensive care and a rehab clinic.
Hundreds of friends, neighbors and loved ones greeted Mikey Nichols with cheers, balloons and welcome home signs late Thursday.
Nichols, who is now in a wheelchair and classified as a quadriplegic, with very limited use of his arms and no feeling below his ribs, said he was thrilled to be home with his mom and dad.
"I have two angels on earth right here with the same last name as me," he said. "I'm blessed to be their son.
As for having all those people welcome him home, he said, "it's kind of hard to describe - if it was up to me I'd come home and just sit around and then have the party the next day or so."
Despite his situation, Nichols had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.
"I'm grateful for everything that's been given to me," he said. "It's something hard but it's nothing I can't get through. The way I've been raised taught me just keep on fighting, keep on pushing, no pain, no gain."
Nichols said he was determined to play hockey again, no matter how long it will take.
"My goal is to skate, I mean I want to get back on the ice and do what I love to do," he said grinning, "My therapists are my toughest hockey coaches yet."
When asked if there was anything he needed, the young man took a moment to think, and said, "to be honest I don't know what I need, you want to give me a couple of million dollars, that would be nice, a new pair of legs would be cool too, but I just need all the support you can give me. I'm really speechless, I have a beautiful mother and a caring father, I couldn't ask for anything more."
With his son by his side, Steve Nichols, Mikey's dad, couldn't stop beaming.
"This is probably the best day I've ever experienced with Mike since the day he was born," he said." It's like a new beginning for us, being home as a family again is something we've missed very much."
He said renovation work has been ongoing, to make it wheelchair accessible, and they're relying on volunteers to help do the work.
"There have been some wonderful people who have stepped forward and put their lives on the line to help us," he said, "and if anyone has any labor skills, we'd love to hear from them."
Nichols said Mikey's condition is being updated every day on a Facebook page.
"If you're interested in helping in any way we'd really appreciate it because this is an unexpected thing we're going through right now, and time is of the essence so we can make Mike comfortable here," he said.