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Jack Jablonski rolled up to his usual spot in front of the microphone on a recent Wednesday evening and waited for his cue: “It is Hockey Night Minnesota with Jack Jablonski on Sports Radio 105 The Ticket,” the announcer’s voice boomed, launching the weekly drive-time show.
Jablonski had never envisioned sitting inside a radio studio, broadcasting his hockey knowledge over airwaves instead of showing his prowess on the ice. He’d always felt a little uneasy speaking in public. But after a paralyzing accident in the rink 2 ½ years ago, Jablonski, now 18, has pushed himself to do a lot of things he’d never imagined.
Natalie Buchoz is a junior at USC and current SWM recipient. She transferred to USC as a sophomore from Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, CA. She grew up in Huntington Beach, and attended Edison High School. At Edison, she played volleyball, softball, swimming, and soccer. She is studying public relations with a minor in sports media. Recently, Swim with Mike (“SWM”) sat down with her to talk about her SWM experience thus far.
What is your favorite thing about USC?
My favorite thing about USC would have to be the Annenberg T.V. station. I really enjoy working there and as part of my work, am able to cover a variety of sports. In thefall, I did Water Polo, Volleyball, and a little of Men’s Basketball. Right now, I’m covering Men’s Baseball.
Who is your favorite person in SWM? & Why?
Don Winston! Don is an exceptional person who is not only an extremely hard worker, but also a loving father, an exceptional mentor, and an amazing human being. He’s not only gone through a lot in his lifetime, but also experienced a lot through his son, and former SWM recipient, Jim Winston. He’s a great person and I love being around him!
What did receiving a SWM scholarship mean to you?
To put it into words would be nearly impossible. Receiving a scholarship from SWM meant for me that SWM was going to help me on the road to independence. A lot of people take the word independence for granted. Due to my accident forcing me to be dependent on other people, I have truly come to relish the word and its true meaning. A lot of people think that independence just means growing up. I know it to mean something entirely different. SWM allowed me to get back out there and put me into situations that I didn’t think I was going to be able to do again. It gave me the financial and mental support I needed to get back to who I was prior to my accident. SWM is really a life-changing organization.
How did SWM’s support help you and your family specifically?
Before I started SWM, I was doing therapy five days a week in Carlsbad, CA at a facility that wasn’t covered by insurance. Due to this, we were forced to pay for it out-of-pocket. This made things difficult and forced us to fundraisers every year to try and offset the cost. At this time, we hadn’t even started to think about the possibility of me attending college. By me receiving a SWM scholarship, I was able to focus on and attend school without the worry of how we were going to pay for it. The injury that I received is very expense and a constant, ongoing process that at first it seemed like I would never be able to get away from. However, with SWM’s help, I’ve been able to attend school with that wight lifted off of my chest. I feel like this is the biggest contribution that SWM has made to me, personally, so far is the fact that I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to do next and how I am going to afford it.
You were quite the athlete in high school, are you still as active?
I exercise now almost as much as I did prior to my accident. I got to the gym four times a week and really enjoy swimming so I do a lot of it. I do a lot of kayaking and just started stand-up paddle boarding also.
Why should someone donate to SWM?
First off, I would like to thank all of the current donors for showing their support and believing in an organization so much that they are willing to donate to it. Your donations affect people’s lives and helps them get back to the person they were prior to their injury. I wouldn’t be at USC today pursuing a degree and living on my own if it weren’t for your support. Furthermore, if you haven’t donated to SWM before or are thinking about increasing your support, please remember how catastrophic these situations are and how with SWM’s help, they’re able to change these people’s lives and get them to reach their full potential by offering them a scholarship. SWM does what every other charity does…and then takes it to the next level!