Paralyzed former Rutgers football player Eric LeGrand plans to visit a New Jersey high school ice hockey player who broke his neck during a game over the weekend.
LeGrand will spend time with 17-year-old Michael Nichols at Morristown Medical Center next week. His visit was initially set for Wednesday, but LeGrand tweeted it had changed to the following week.
The Monroe High School senior forward fractured a vertebra when he was checked and collided into the boards while playing Vernon on Saturday night.
"He said, 'Dad, I can't feel anything,'" his father, Steven Nichols, said at the Morristown Memorial Hospital Monday. "And I went onto the ice and he had great spirits. He said, 'I was the best player on the ice tonight,' and I said, 'You were, son.' Next thing I knew, we were here."
He was airlifted from the Skylands Ice World arena in Sussex County and taken to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with a fracture to his C5 vertebrae. Doctors stabilized Nichols and performed surgery on his broken neck Sunday afternoon. They say it's too early to say whether he'll walk or skate again.
LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down during a Rutgers game in 2010.
LeGrand tells the Home News Tribune his goal is to show Nichols that he supports him and his family and to let him know he's not alone in his battle.
Nichols says he not only plans to walk again, but he plans to play hockey again, too. His father recounted his son's words: "'Dad, that ice that I couldn't get up from the other night, I'm going back to it, I'm going to stand up on it.'"
Steven Nichols added, "And I believe he will, and I believe a big part of the reason he will is because of the outpouring of support from everybody."