A request of the National Hockey League:
If he’s up for it, please choose Josh Karels to drop the puck this Sunday at Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, site of the Wild-Blackhawks outdoor game.
Before you say no, watch this feature on “Joshie Hockey” and his incredible spirit, produced by Minneapolis NBC News affiliate Kare 11, which aired the story Tuesday night:
The 15-year-old Karels was diagnosed with a rare immune disorder called hypogammaglobulinemia nine years ago. He has undergone more than 20 surgeries and fought through countless complications, and still his body is unable to battle common infections. Catching a cold could threaten his life.
Yet he’s a Cottage Grove Bantam A winger who keeps pace with the healthy kids and inspires his coaches.
“Other coaches will come up to us and say, ‘No. 16, that’s Josh. He’s outworking our healthiest players.’ He has got 40 per cent of his lung and is outworking everybody out there, even some of us coaches in practice,” coach Xander Schmidtz told Kare 11.
Josh’s parents, Katie and Andy Karels, and three younger siblings wonder at his optimism and devotion to the rink. With Josh hospitalized for the bulk of December, Katie penned a letter to the local hockey community, trying to express the meaning of the game to her son.
Since Katie’s letter made the rounds, Karels has been visited by members of the Wild and even had a chance to wear Herb Brooks’ Olympic gold medal.
“Hockey, it helps me get out of the hospital bed. Just knowing I have a game, I have to fight through it so I can go to the game and play. When I am on the ice, I don’t hurt anymore. It all goes away,” Karels said. “I always thought, Why would you be down on yourself? There are people who have it worse than you. I have a great family.”
At last check, more than $55,400 has been raised for Karels’ care through his GoFundMe page.
Josh played his first playoff game this week. Perhaps he could cap it off with a ceremonial puck drop?