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Oilers spread cheer at local hospitals

by Leanne Laverick / Edmonton Oilers
Fernando Pisani, Ales Hemsky, Mike Comrie meet a young Oilers fan at the Stollery Children's Hospital March 25, 2010. (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club)
Each season the Edmonton Oilers make their way into the community for their annual hospital visits. The players visited seven hospitals throughout Edmonton and met with hundreds of people at each location.

This year, one patient in particular hit close to home for the players at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital.

Nine weeks ago, Chad Tithecott was playing hockey, back-checking in his own zone, when he went head first into the net, hitting his head on the centre post. This accident resulted in a C5 spinal cord injury causing Chad to lose all ability to move from the neck down.

Zack Stortini and Taylor Chorney were visiting the adult rehabilitation patients when Chad arrived in the quiet atrium to meet them. Chad has been working extremely hard in his rehabilitation and in only nine weeks, had been able to gain mobility in everything except for his hands. This progress allowed him to stand up out of his wheelchair and walk over to have his photo taken with Stortini and Chorney.

“I spent the entire month of February in a bed,” said Chad Tithecott. “So being able to stand up and walk is great, but being able to stand up with these guys is even better.”

“Some of the situations that we have been hearing about are very heartbreaking,” said Zack Stortini. “Chad’s accident that happened in hockey is something that hits home for all of us guys and our thoughts and prayers are definitely with him during his fight to recover.”

These visits to the hospitals give the Oilers the chance to interact with their fans and get to know the people that live in the community. It also lets the players see firsthand how important the power of the mind and spirit are during a recovery period.

“There are a lot of people out there that maybe aren’t as well-off,” said Sam Gagner. “It gives you a lot of perspective and shows you that maybe a hockey game doesn’t mean so much. For these people to go through what they do and continue to push through – it’s a real inspiration for me.”

On March 25, the Oilers visited hospitals throughout the city including CapitalCare Norwood, Royal Alexandra, Stollery Children’s, Cross Cancer, Grey Nuns, Misercordia and the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital.
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