May 23, 2011
Young Knights prospectâ€™s dreams dashedKnights pick dies after accident
MORRIS DALLA COSTA, QMI Agency
LONDON, ONT. - I didn't know Ian Jenkins very well.
Yet I know hundreds of Ian Jenkins.
I didn't know his family at all.
Yet I know hundreds of families like the Jenkins.
Ian Jenkins was a young man with the hopes and dreams of so many other young men. He wanted to play hockey at the highest level. For now, it was the Ontario Hockey League. Years from now, he wanted to play in the National Hockey League.
His family was like so many other supporting families. Thrilled that their son had developed the kind of skill that gave him a chance to live his dream. Satisfied that as a family they did whatever they could financially, physically and emotionally to help him along in his dream. Proud that their son showed the determination, dedication and passion to move step by step toward that dream.
We all know many Ian Jenkins. But not necessarily as hockey players, but as 15-year-old kids who live life to the fullest. They have fun, enjoy the company of their friends and who in many ways believe their youth and strength make them indestructible.
There isn't a 15-year-old out there that hasn't at one time or another done something they probably shouldn't have. It doesn't make them irresponsible or bad or stupid.
On Thursday, the 15-year-old hockey prospect, one of the top young goaltenders in the U.S. hockey system, did something that maybe he shouldn't have done.
On Thursday, he reportedly was riding on the side of a pick-up truck near his home in Michigan and slipped. He hit his head and from that moment on, nothing will ever be the same for the Jenkins family.
His head injuries were severe.
It happened in a moment. It could happen to anyone.
On Friday, Jenkins was supposed to be getting ready to be with his future London Knights teammates attending a mini-camp in London. Two weeks earlier, the Knights had drafted him and his joy and expectations were everything a young man should be feeling when he was headed toward his dream.
Instead, his family decided to remove him from life support and waited for him to die.
No family, no parent can prepare for that.
Jenkins fought hard, but passed away Monday morning, just before 8 a.m.
Suddenly, we no longer really know an Ian Jenkins or what his family is going through because this is not how the script is supposed to end.
But Ian Jenkins won't leave this world without touching a lot of people, without changing something for the better.
As the Jenkins family waited for the situation with their son and brother to sort itself out, everyone got a glimpse of how strong, resolute and courageous the Jenkins family is. One can only imagine that Ian had much of that in him as well.
Joel Jenkins, Ian's dad, and his family have created a legacy for Ian. While Ian couldn't fulfill his dreams, several others will have that opportunity because of Ian.
As the nightmare continued for the Jenkins family, Joel looked beyond his family. He told the world that when Ian passed his organs would be donated for transplant purposes.
The athlete will be saving someone's life with a heart, kidneys, a liver. Maybe he'll save two lives, three or four.
It's a bittersweet situation for those who give and those who receive.
On the day Ian Jenkins was drafted by the Knights, I called him. There was no answer.
Five minutes later, my telephone rang and it was Jenkins.
"Someone there called me but I missed it. Can I help you?" Jenkins said.
That doesn't happen very often, especially from a 15-year-old.
After telling him who I was, Jenkins was unrestrained in describing the excitement of being a Knight and getting a chance to play the game he loved. There was no cockiness, no feeling of entitlement.
Sometimes, the world is not very fair.
The only thing that makes this any more bearable is that somewhere, someone today has been blessed with the heart of a very fine young man.