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Vancouver varsity football team dedicates homecoming game to quarterback paralyzed in diving accident

The homecoming game is always a big deal for the Notre Dame Jugglers. But this Saturday’s match has taken on extra importance for the Vancouver varsity football team. It’s being dedicated to a star quarterback who suffered a life-altering spinal cord injury in early August.

Gavin Kamoschinski was swimming with family when he dove head-first off a dock into Okanagan Lake, hit the bottom, and broke his neck. The 17-year-old is currently paralyzed from the chest down, and breathing with the help of a ventilator at Vancouver General Hospital.

“This such a terrible accident, and to see this happen to one of our students is absolutely just heartbreaking,” said Notre Dame Secondary’s athletic director Deanna Schaper-Kotter.

Gavin’s father Jeremy Kamoschinski says his son is starting to regain some movement in his arms, but still can’t move his hands or feel anything below his chest. “The recovery process isn’t just two or three weeks, or two or three months. Really from what I can see, it will a life-long recovery type process.”

It’s a process Gavin’s football family wants to be a part of. “We have really rallied behind them, and the boys are just dedicating this season to Gavin,” said Schaper-Kotter.

That starts with Saturday’s homecoming game. Admission is by donation, and every dollar raised is going to Gavin and his family.

“We are selling these ‘Gavin Strong’ t-shirts, we had this logo designed for Gavin,” said Notre Dame varsity mom Trish Almeida. “We are running a concession stand, a beer garden, a 50/50. Everything towards Gavin.”

Gavin Kamoschinski's teammates on the Notre Dame Jugglers show off their "Gavin Strong" t-shirts. Other varsity teams are also raising money for the family. “Last week the team that we played donated all the funds from the gates to Gavin, and they raised over $5,000 in one game. So we are hoping to at least match that and hopefully double it. It’s kind of our goal,” said Schaper-Kotter.

Gavin’s parents are grateful for the much-needed financial support, and the frequent hospital visits from Gavin’s teammates.

“We go there, still joking around with him, still having fun, you know. Obviously it’s sad what happened, but you know, he’s keeping his hopes up,” said Gavin’s best friend and teammate Thomas Mustapic.

“Gavin will never be the guy to have his hopes down, to say ‘poor me.’ Gavin will be there, he will fight, he will keep fighting. And that’s really, really inspiring to see. In what would be a really low moment for some people, Gavin always has his hopes up,” said teammate Andrea Ferronato.

“Day by day he’s getting more movement in his body and he’s up in the chair once a day moving around, which has been great to see. He was outside twice this weekend, which was awesome,” added Schaper-Kotter.

The next big goal for Gavin? Transition off the ventilator and move to GF Strong rehabilitation centre, with an aim to eventuality go home. “Inches forward and inches back, and hopefully get more inches forward, and that’s the idea and that’s the way we are going,” said Jeremy.

Knowing his son would have been Notre Dame’s starting quarterback at Saturday’s homecoming game is difficult.

“Yeah it’s heartbreaking that Gavin isn’t there, and he worked so hard. 100 per cent deserved it,” said Jeremy. But Gavin’s younger brother, who saved his life by bringing him to the lake surface after the accident, will be there as a special guest of the team. And the Jugglers are determined to win it for Gavin.

“Now we have to let his talent flow though us in a way that we can honour him,” said Ferronato.

“It’s always tough not having such a leader like that and not being able to play with him. But we are gonna have to dedicate it to him,” said Mustapic. “We’re going to have to take his strength that he gives us and apply it to the game, and we have to take this one home for him.” Top Stories

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