From the sports editor: CR’s Page not giving up hope

Magnolia resident Brian Page (right) met a fellow rehab patient, Garrett, in Magee Hospital in Philadelphia on Friday. Page family photo

Brian Page used to dream of doing big things as an ice hockey player.

The Caesar Rodney High student-athlete still has big goals.

Only now, ever since Nov. 15, those dreams are about doing things like walking again.

Paralyzed from the waist down after taking a hard hit in a hockey game in Philadelphia, Page and his family remain optimistic that the 17-year-old from Magnolia has only started to show how far he might recover.

On Friday, Page met a young man with similar spinal-cord injuries. Told he wouldn’t walk again, the 18-year-old visitor was planning to walk out of the hospital on Saturday.

“He asked Brian what his goals were,” said Brian Page Sr. “And Brian obviously said that he wants to walk.

“He’s not losing hope,” added the elder Page. “I think early on, after he got out of Jefferson (Hospital), he talked to his mom (Joan) a couple times and asked the hard questions, ‘Why?’ and was just upset. But that quickly dissipated and how his focus is just getting better and working hard every day at rehab to achieve that ability to be able to walk again.”

The elder Page said that his son also wants to play ice hockey again, even if it means sitting on a sled to compete. He was playing at a pretty high junior level with the Little Flyers at the time of the injury.

The atmosphere of the game and being around other hockey players mean that much to him.

“People have commented that if they were in the same situation that they would just be angry or dealing with it in a way different way,” said Page Sr., who is a state trooper. “Obviously you don’t know unless you’re put in that situation. But definitely his mom and I are just inspired by his attitude and just everything — even before this injury — what he’s had to overcome. It’s simply amazing.”

Page, who has two broken vertebrae and two others that are damaged, is currently undergoing six hours of daily rehab at Philadelphia’s Magee Hospital. But the family is also beginning the process of bringing him back home, perhaps before the end of the month.

Renovations to the Pages’ home are slated to start on Monday. Page Sr. said DE Renovations’ owner Gary Brobst is “graciously working long hours and weekends to have the work completed by the time Brian is discharged.”

The Pages quickly found out how much people in the community — both locally and in the hockey world — are willing to help out after Page suffered his traumatic injury.

Along with several fundraisers, close to 5,000 people have ‘liked’ a Facebook page that was started to keep everyone updated on Page’s condition. A trust fund has been started in Page’s name and a number of pro hockey teams have sent photos and videos with words of encouragement.

He’s also a member of CR’s lacrosse team while his young brother, Nolan, plays football for the Riders.

Page’s jersey number is 87 so ‘#87Strong’ has become a rallying brand.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Page Sr. “The hockey family is a tight-knit group, and a special group at that. There’s people that we don’t know or others that are family friends who have stepped up. It (the fund-raising) is helping because we just don’t know how much money Brian is going to need in the future.”

For the moment, Page’s progress is measured in smaller accomplishments. He no longer has to wear a neck brace and is starting to power his wheelchair with his own arms.

On Saturday, he was feeding himself — chicken tenders — for lunch.

“He’s getting stronger every day and his personality is there,” said the elder Page. “His mom and I, that’s what we focus on. We still have Brian and it could have been so much worse.

“We’re just blessed. He’s still the same person that he was before the accident, as far as his mind and personality and character.”

Odds & ends

• Wesley College lost one of its spring football opponents when Rowan announced this week that it won’t be playing ‘fall’ sports this spring. The Wolverines and Profs are both members of the NJAC.

• Former Dover High basketball standout Elijah Allen has started all five games as a freshman for Wagner this winter. He’s third on the squad in scoring at 11.2 ppg. The Seahawks haven’t played since Dec. 22.

Leddie Brown, the one-time Smyrna High All-Stater, ran for 1,010 yards with nine touchdowns in only 10 games for West Virginia this fall. He is the 27th player in school history to reach 1,000 yards in a season.

Brown, who was a first-team All-Big-12 pick, also caught 31 passes for 202 yards and two more TDs.

• The Delaware Sportswriters and Broadcasters Association voted on its annual awards on Saturday. The winners will be announced in the next few weeks.