DANVERS — The Hour of Therapy open house at St. John’s Prep yesterday afternoon, to raise funds for former St. John’s Prep football player Jared Coppola, was an uplifting event.
Blue and white balloons decorated the entrance to the Milano Dining Hall on the campus of St. John’s Prep. Inside, a table was set up with Coppola’s No. 34 football jersey and Prep helmet. Friends, coaches, former teammates and several members of this past year’s Super Bowl champion team came out to support one of their own.
Coppola has made amazing progress since suffering a catastrophic injury in a football scrimmage four years ago during his junior season, in which he fractured his fifth cervial vertebra. Jared was paralyzed and initially the prognosis was not good, but he has defied all odds and walked to the podium yesterday afternoon without his walker. Instead, he used crutches with arm braces to tell his inspiring story as he prepares to spend the next two months doing intensive rehabilitation at the renowned Shepherd Center in Atlanta.
Coppola thanked everyone for coming. He spoke about the recent surgery on his left leg to give him more balance and also what he hopes to accomplish in Atlanta.
“It’s great to see all these people,” said Coppola. “Everyone here has a relationship with St. John’s Prep. I want to thank them all because I really appreciate all the help.”
Coppola has received tremendous support from his extended family, the St. John’s community, and people across the North Shore. He is now ready to take the next step and return to the Shephed Center, where he spent over three months following his injury. He will be in the Beyond Therapy program, hoping to achieve his goal of walking without the help of a walker for longer periods of time and also to be able to stand without help.