Ken Allore has never given up hope that one day he will walk again.
Allore is determined to do what he can to make that day happen as soon as possible.
Allore’s story is well known. More than 21 years ago, the then 17-year-old defenceman was playing a minor hockey playoff game in Mt. Brydges. He chased the puck along the boards and was hit from behind. It was a defining moment in his life. Allore broke his neck, suffered spinal cord injuries and was left a Paraplegic.
But not for life. Allore is determined it won’t be for the rest of his life.
“I never give up hope on a cure,” Allore said from his home in Mt. Brydges. “They are doing so much stuff now. They are progressing in all the fields.
“We have our down days. You’ve just got to get over it. I love my life the way it is. It’s going great. It could be worse. There’s a lot worse off people than me. I feel very, very fortunate with what I have. I have mobility, feeling, stuff like that.”
Allore, 38, is busy planning the second installment of Rockin’ Wheel for Spinal Cord Injury. It’s a concert and auction to raise money for spinal cord injury research, awareness and prevention. Last year, the event raised $9,000 and Allore hopes to double that this year.
Bands participating this year are the Mammals, the Shelly Rastin Band and Hogwild. Leading sponsors Bell Alliant, the A-Channel, MyFM and Tan Factory are providing supports. The concert is at the Mt. Brydges Arena tomorrow from 7.30 p.m. to 1 a.m.
“Most people get their tickets at the door but we’ve already raised $8,000,” Allore said. “Last year, we had eight cash sponsors. This year, we have 20. Things have been great. It’s overwhelming at times. I can’t believe the support we’re getting.”
Allore works full time at organizing Rockin’ Wheel.
“There’s really nothing like this going on anywhere here,” he said. “This is also about awareness and prevention. It has to stop this checking from behind. But it won’t be taken seriously until it happens in the NHL, unfortunately. For me, I just want to raise some money.”
Allore leads a full life, living by the adage “if life hands you lemons, make lemonade.”
“I just do the best I can. I’m looking forward to the concert. Mr. Brydges has been so supportive. This town really comes together for things like this,” Allore said.
He said he has no complaints. He considers himself lucky when he compares himself to the others he’s seen in his many trips to the hospital.
“Things are good,” Allore said. “I have an excellent family. My son Brett is 17 and he really keeps me going.”
Brett used to play hockey, but gave it up.
“When he first started in hockey, I wanted him to be a goalie, in part because of what happened to me. I wanted to protect him in some way,” Allore said. “I spent all this money on goalie equipment but it was a little bit boring for a five- or six-year-old. He decided to play out.
“I’m the typical Canadian dad. ‘Hockey is the coolest game on earth.’ I’d like him to play just like me. But it’s not for everybody. Without him and my family, I don’t know where I’d be. I have the best family in the world.”
Life still provides adventure. Two years ago, he was in a bar recruiting bands for Rockin’ Wheel. An over-exuberant woman decided to jump in his lap. Her leg caught in the joystick of his motorized wheelchair. The chair, woman and Allore raced out of control smashing into the stage.
“I broke my foot. It got casted, but the foot ulcered. It was so bad (doctors) wanted to take it off,” Allore said. “It’s been two years but it’s better now. I had to cancel Rockin’ Wheel that year because I was in hospital.
“What we do for charity.”
By MORRIS DALLA COSTA, FREE PRESS SPORTS COLUMNIST