Perseverance, hard work and a positive attitude. These are qualities that we all hope to impart on our children, both on and off the ice.
The next time you’re looking for a good example, just take a look in the DYHA trophy case in the lobby of the Dover Ice Arena. In it you’ll see trophies and plaques from the past victories of DYHA teams. You’ll also find a picture of a Dover Stars goalie, arms raised in victory, with the autograph “Levi #35.”
In 2015, Levi Whitcomb was a typical boy playing hockey as a member of the Dover Stars Squirt team. He was a pivotal contributor to the team’s spectacular 40-7-4 season. On March 15th, Levi donned his pads and manned the net for the Stars in their GSL championship game, not knowing that it would be the last time he would lace up his skates for a long time.
A few weeks later on April 6th, at the age of 9, Levi was diagnosed with brain cancer (medulloblastoma). A week later, he underwent an 18-hour surgery where doctors successfully removed 95% of the mass. He awoke from surgery needing assistance to breathe and eat and spent the next 3 weeks in the Intensive Care Unit at Boston Children’s Hospital. After leaving the ICU, Levi endured 31 proton radiation treatments and 6 months of chemotherapy to attack the remaining tumor. That July, he also underwent another surgery at Mass Eye and Ear to correct issues of facial muscle weakness caused by the tumor.
Over two years have passed since Levi’s diagnosis. Many of those days have been filled with hours physical, occupational and speech therapy to regain the mobility and muscle control that were impacted by his tumor and treatment. He had to learn how to walk, talk and write again. The road to recovery was difficult. But, through it all, Levi kept one goal in mind: a return to the ice.
A few weeks ago, all of his perseverance, hard work and positive attitude were rewarded. Levi laced up his skates, pulled on his #35 jersey, and jumped back on the ice as a forward for the U14 House League White team. To see him out there skating with his teammates you wouldn’t know all that he has been through. He’s just boy playing hockey. And, for a kid that has been through so much at such a young age, that’s exactly how it should be.
Welcome back Levi!
(On December 11th, DYHA Board members Jeremy Forest and Craig Croteau were honored to meet with Levi and his parents following his game. On behalf of the DYHA family, they presented Levi with a brand new hockey stick and welcomed him back to hockey.)