MACOMB, Mich. – The throttle of his chair is a hockey puck. The determination on his face is the same as it was when he played hockey for Dakota High School.
It’s been a long four months for Anthony Mastronardi.
In December, he injured his spinal cord when he went headfirst into the boards during a game. Since then, he’s spent every moment working on regaining his mobility and strength.
"When he first came in, he couldn’t really move his arms at all," said Jessica Sesta, a clinical specialist who worked with Mastronardi at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan. "As we worked through therapy, his arms got stronger."
Sesta credits Mastronardi’s incredible attitude for the strides he’s made so far.
"He comes to therapy with an open mind and positive attitude every single day," she said.
"I got put in this position. I have no choice but to be positive," Mastronardi said. "There’s no point in being in this position and being miserable. That’s no way to live."
Mastronardi's mother, SarahAnne, said he’s been an inspiration to her and to the entire family.
"He has not complained once or asked, 'Why him?'" she said. "Just like he lived life before. He gets up and does what he has to do."
The 17-year-old Mastronardi was recently released and rejoined his three younger siblings back at home in Macomb Township. He’s now an outpatient at the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan. He’s got a lot of hurdles in front of him, but he doesn’t see it that way. To him, they are challenges.
"I did write something and put it on the wall," Mastronardi said. "Every day I look at it. It says, 'I will walk.' I look at it and then I go to therapy."
There is a fundraiser on Sunday at 6 p.m. to benefit Anthony Mastronardi.
It's a game that will be played by Red Wings alumni versus senior hockey players from area high schools. The Grind Line is set to be there. Mastronardi will drop the puck.
To attend, please send a $10 donation to:
34400 Utica Road
If you are unable to attend, you can donate to the PayPal account email@example.com, or you can donate to www.hockeyhasheart.com with Anthony Mastronardi’s name in "notes" or by making a check payable to Anthony Mastronardi.
The money will go to help the family with transportation costs, a new chair for Mastronardi and therapy that is not covered by insurance.