By Jean DePlacido
---- — An Hour of Therapy is a fundraiser for Jared Coppola to help with the next phase of his courageous battle to recover from a horrific football injury. The former St. John’s Prep player was severely injured in a scrimmage prior to the start of his junior year with the Eagles.
Since that day three and a half years ago he has made tremendous progress, but he needs assistance to defray expenses he will incur at a state of the art facility in Atlanta where he will receive advanced physical therapy that isn’t available anywhere else.
Paralyzed since the injury, Coppola has made remarkable strides through countless hours of therapy. He is now able to use a walker for short distances, and his goal is to continue making greater strides in his journey to recover.
Prep football fans will never forget that Thanksgiving morning at the Hawk Bowl in 2010 when Jared walked across the field. All three Coppola triplets were at midfield for the coin toss — Tyler, Brandon, and Jared — and the Eagles went on to upset Xaverian to go to the D1 playoffs. That season ended against Everett in the Super Bowl trip to Gillette Stadium.
The Open House will be held at St. John’s Prep in Milano Dining Hall on Sunday, April 28 from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Jared will share his experiences at 12:30 p.m., and light refreshments will be served. Everyone is invited to celebrate Jared’s progress by helping to defray expenses he will incur in the two month long Beyond Therapy program at the Shepard Center where he spent three months recovering after the injury.
His aunt Robin Coppola Shelgren organized the event. Therapy in Atlanta costs a hundred dollars an hour, the donation requested at the fundraiser.
“People can make a donation as a group,” said Shelgren. “If four people come together it would only be $25 each. Jared has been working so hard at therapy since the injury we want to find a way to make this program in Atlanta doable.
“He recently had surgery on the muscle in the heel of his left foot to help him walk better, and we have a great film of Jared walking with his dad. He does it without a walker with Skip holding his hand. This is a very uplifting, inspirational story. That old saying 'It takes a village' is certainly true, and all the support he has received has been so positive. People still ask me how my nephew is doing. It touched so many people, and they want to help.”
Coppola will receive intensive therapy five days a week for three hours per day using the latest equipment. The program which is not covered by insurance, runs from late May until July 27. He also needs help with lodging expenses during this time away from home.
“I always knew about this program, but I was waiting until I had enough stamina to do it,” said Coppola, who is finishing his sophomore year at UNH where he is a full-time student majoring in business. “You set goals for yourself there, and mine are to gain more strength in my core and to walk better.
“They use all different kinds of equipment. One thing that will really help is a treadmill with a harness system. It’s a great program that will really help me, and I will get good exercises to do once I return home. Members of my family are planning to come to visit at different times while I’m there (Jared has a sister and three brothers).”
Currently Coppola goes to the Boston Medical Center for therapy three days a week. He arranged his college schedule to have Fridays free in order to spend the entire day in Boston, and then stay at his North Reading home for the weekend so he can get back in to the Medical Center early on Monday for more therapy before heading back to school. He often goes for therapy on Thursday afternoons.
From the very beginning Coppola has tackled his injury head on, and worked diligently on his rehabilitation. He has received great support from his extended family, the St. John’s community, friends, and countless others across the North Shore who admire his tenacity and positive attitude.
Anyone unable to attend the fundraiser can still make a contribution. Send to the Jared Coppola Fund c/0 Reading Cooperative Bank, 170 Park Street, North Reading, MA., 01964.