'He's quite an amazing little guy': Saskatchewan-born hockey player paralyzed in snowboard accident
SASKATOON -- A snowboarding accident has left hockey player Kyrell Sopotyk, of Aberdeen, paralyzed.
According to his friend Connor Zary, the accident happened on Friday.
“Kyrell is one of those people where you meet him instantly and you think he's you already your best friend, he just has that heart of gold,” said Kathleen Zary, Connor’s mom and the organizer of a GoFundMe page for Sopotyk and his family.
“He's quite an amazing little guy.”
Zary says Connor and Kyrell’s friendship was forged through hockey; they started playing together when they were just seven years old, and are now both on the roster of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers.
“Connor was super excited when Kyrell came on the team, right after the first year that Connor was on the team, so he had his good buddy there with him,” she said. “To just see the relationship grow between Kyrell and Connor over the last few years has been awesome.”
The Kamloops Blazers and the WHL have each released statements about Sopotyk’s injury. The Blazers say they’re devastated at the news and that Kyrell “is a tremendous young man and an exemplary representative of our hockey club.”
“These kids become like your kids, for all of us. Our heart goes out to the family, we're upset,” President, COO, and alternate governor Don Moores said.
“There's almost 1,000 different people that have donated money, and that just speaks to, not just the people in Kamloops or Blazer Nation, it speaks to people across the world and how much people care. It's pretty nice to see.”
The WHL says everyone associated with the league is “deeply saddened by the devastating news.”
Zary says she’s been in communication with the Sopotyks over the weekend, getting permission to start the GoFundMe for their family, which went up Sunday.
As of noon on Monday, it had raised more than $87,000.
Zary says she’s been blown away by the response from the hockey community and beyond.
“(I’m) super proud of everybody I know, big shout out to everybody in Saskatchewan and Kamloops and all over that are generously giving to this campaign. I know the Sopotyks have reached out to me and said how grateful they are and how overwhelmed they are by the support,” she said.
“I know that as a family they're going to be with Kyrell and probably not paying too much attention to whether they're going back to work right away, or if there's a paycheck coming up. Who knows what might move ahead for them as far as expenses go, so I just wanted to ensure that they were having that worry off of their shoulders.”