On Friday, Humboldt Broncos defenseman Ryan Straschnitzki and his family attended the Flyers Development Camp in Voorhees, NJ.
Straschnitzki was paralyzed in the horrific bus crash that took the lives of many of his teammates (including Jaxon Joseph, the son of Flyers Alumni defenseman Chris Joseph). The 19-year-old native of Airdrie, Alberta, is in Philadelphia undergoing rehab at Shriner's Hospital for Children.
Video: Ryan Straschnitzki of Humbolt Broncos visits Flyers
"As soon as we found out they were coming, we reached out to his family and it kind of snowballed from there," said Flyers general manager Ron Hextall.
"Ryan is an incredible young man. To see and talk to this young man, with all that happened and his whole life turned upside down, the attitude he has is amazing."
Ryan, who requires a wheelchair, has undergone an arduous physical recovery process. He still has a long way to go but has made substantial progress in a short period of time. He said that every little bit of support he's received has helped him in his recovery and helped the victims along with coping with the unspeakable losses from the tragedy.
Straschnitzki who was texting his girlfriend while riding on the team bus, only recalls the bus driver yelling "whoa!" as the truck with which the bus collided careened into its path. The impact was so severe that Ryan was hurtled out of the bus, unconscious, before the first responders arrived at the scene.
Despite his own arduous recovery path and the emotional pain of coping with the loss of so many friends and teammates, Straschnitzki has taken to heart the outpouring of support the victims and their families have received from across North America and around the world. As a young hockey player, he is especially appreciative of the outreach from the Flyers and the chance to attend an NHL Development Camp.
"It's been amazing. They have done so much, and I can't thank them enough. It's been great to be here, and I have learned a lot [about the organization and the city]," Straschnitzki said.
Hextall also noted the excitement of the players and prospects to meet Straschnitzki, particularly Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, who in an earlier visit offered much more.
"Mac was dialed right in," said Hextall. "I don't know if I should tell this story or not, but the first time we went over to the hospital Tom [Ryan's father] told us that A-Mac offered him his house and his car."
One day earlier, Straschnitzko was a special guest of dozens of Flyers Alumni participating in the 2018 CDW Flyers Alumni Golf Invitational at Dupont Country Club in Wilmington.
The Flyers Alumni arranged for Ryan to travel to the Alumni Golf reception via limousine. At the reception, Ryan sat at the VIP table along with Bob Clarke and Paul Holmgren.
Ryan was named an honorary member of the Flyers Alumni Team, receiving a customized jersey with his name and number on the back. He received a standing ovation from the attending Flyers Alumni and then posed for photos with his new teammates.
"Bringing Ryan to the Alumni Golf event was just a small gesture on our part, but we wanted him and his family to know that we are in their corner, because the hockey world is a family," said Brad Marsh, the president of the Flyers Alumni Association.
Ryan's courage is inspirational to everyone. 'Humboldt Strong' isn't just a buzzword after the tragedy. Ryan, the other players who survived and all of the victims families have exemplified inner strength.