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Jack’s Story

"I don't believe in Miracles, I rely on them."

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Jack Jablonski Fund

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*If you wish to make a tax-deductible contribution to the Jack Jablonski BEL13VE in Miracles Foundation where the proceeds benefit SCI research and recovery efforts, please visit www.bel13vefoundation.org and select the red "DONATE" box on the bottom right corner of the home page.  

Latest Journal Update

Free Bird

It was customary for each graduating class in my high school to incorporate music into our commencement ceremonies. My class actually had a group of guys who formed a band and played an incredible rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird." 

Here I am in LA, as we transition Jack into USC. "Free Bird" has popped in and out of my head since we arrived on January 6th. Not so much for the lyrics, but more for the name of the song, and the continuous repetition of the words, "Free Bird." Maybe the song stuck to my mind because it reminds me of my own transition from high school to college. Or maybe it's just a reminder that it's time to let go.

Sigh. Double sigh. 

Free Bird. Bird. Empty nest. Letting go. Well, not really an empty nest, but the house sure will feel empty without Jack. But I am so grateful to have this time with Max. He's been such an incredibly unselfish, super-supporting and understanding younger brother. His love for Jack brings tears to my eyes. I'll never forget the night just a few days after Jack's injury when Max and I went home to shower and grab a few things to bring back to the hospital. We walked into the kitchen and he looked at Jack's chair sitting at the counter. He burst into tears and said, "I want my brother back." Heart-wrenching. A moment I'll never forget.

Fast-forward to January 2015. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine Jack would be in college after his injury, but here we are. On the morning we left with Jack, I heard Max in his brother's room. He wished him well and they said their goodbyes. How time flies. How they've grown. Both of them. And how far we've come from that day in the kitchen. 

So, here we are, in LA, at USC. Jack is getting acclimated to his new environment. Classes started this week, and thanks to a conglomerate of amazing people, things are falling into place. We got Jack settled in his ADA apartment, which is perfect as it faces a brand new courtyard with a giant fireplace outside his bedroom window and many sunny spots where he spends time studying and reading. Yes, Jack really is studying and reading. And tanning. 

As for me, I'm proud to say that I'm finally figuring out LA and the lay of the land. I have to admit, I was really intimidated by this city. Not sure why, but I was. After a week of navigating my way around LA, I've overcome my fear of the freeway system and its never-ending traffic. And I did, by accident, land in the restricted Express Lane for which I'm sure I will receive a hefty ticket in the mail. Oh well, at least I got to my destination in half the time it would have taken had I not made this mistake.

I have a few more days in LA before I head back to Minneapolis. My emotions have been all over the map. I know that's normal for most parents dropping their sons/daughters off at college for the first time. Each day seems to put me more and more at ease as I watch Jack feel more and more comfortable with all things new. It's a huge hurdle for every college-bound freshman to clear, but it can be so overwhelming for a kid with special needs. All I can say is that I am so proud of Jack for his courage, his determination and his ability to embrace so much change all at once.

Think about it. Every. Single. Thing. In. His. Life. Has. Changed. Every. Thing. Scary. But Oh-So-Exciting.

And, he's ready. I may not be, but Jack is. 

Time to let go. 

"If I leave here tomorrow, 
would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on now,
 'cause there's too many places I've got to see…"
Lynyrd Skynyrd, Free Bird 

Go Jack go….

Love you always. 
Mom

(photo of Jack and Mike at the airport)





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Comments

96 Comments

Robbie Mancina
By Robbie Mancina
Congratulations on attending such an outstanding school! My brother went to medical school there and loved it. I don't know you, but I've been following you ever since your injury. I'm so happy that you are able to continue your studies and that you get the chance to experience that adventure called college. They will probably be the best four years of your life. Have a blast!
Mary Alvestad
By Mary Alvestad
I am very proud of you Jack! You are truly inspirational.
john & carol giovinco
By john & carol giovinco
Hi Jack, Max, Leslie, & Mike, We hope everything is going well for you, Jack, and you are enjoying college!!!!:).......AND to wish all of you a VERY HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!!:).....GOD BLESS!!!!!
LOVE & PRAYERS~
Carol & John G.
xoxoxoox's
Mary Senneka
By Mary Senneka
Fly high!
Karen Lohr
By
Stumbled upon this on Facebook. Ramp Less Traveled provides scholarships to students who had a SCI that caused them to miss part of school (k-12 or college) less than 3 years ago, and want to pursue college. In addition to scholarships they also have a mentor program. It was started by a now Duke Univ student who was injured between high school & college.

http://ramplesstraveled.com
john & carol giovinco
By john & carol giovinco
Hi Jack, We hope everything is going very well for you at school and you are enjoying it!!!:) "Hi" Max, Leslie, & Mike hope you are all doing well!!!:) GOD BLESS all!!
Luv & PRAYERS~
Carol & John G.
xoxoxo's
Ruth Boudet
By Ruth Boudet (Rochester, MN)
Beautifully written! It is hard to let them go to college but mine is only 90 min. away, perfectly healthy and I still worry. I can't imagine your life. I have learned though, as I told my son while he was home for winter break, "you do what you have to do when you have to; no excuses. The human spirit can be amazing and resilience must be a part of your character." Jack and the whole family has certainly shown that.
Good luck in college Jack!! I've watched 2 miracles happen, you and another dear friend of my daughter's, Zack Nelson, who fell from the cliffs in Lacrosse. He too has made an amazing recovery and went back to college. Enjoy the warmth and know that you still have a huge cheering section behind you!!
Katie McElroy
By Katie McElroy
Thank you Leslie for all your lovely writings. This is truly a monumental moment in your life story! I cannot even imagine! Jack has such a bright future--what an amazing young man he is. It has taken me quite a while to adjust to our empty next, but I think you are in some ways going through that even though you still have Max at home.. I am so glad you tell of his reactions too. Take care and know that there is a "could of witnesses" praying for Jack and for you as you watch this future unfold. love to you all, Katie McElroy
Teri Odland
By Teri Odland
Beautifully said, LLJ ... as always. You are amazing.
Ann Muraro
By Ann Muraro-Lacopo
Although it is terrifying for us as parents to let our children go it is also the greatest testament to having done our jobs well. They are eager and excited to be independent and forge their own paths on the journey known as life. Without your guidance, support and love they would be content with doing nothing. You have given Jack the tools he needs to succeed and be independent, you have encouraged him to follow his dreams and your support has given him the confidence to do just that. You have done an amazing job and Max will surely soar as well. I will be anxious to read updates on how 'our' Jack is doing! Congratulations to all of you!!