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Young hockey fan, the perfect PA announcer for Kids Takeover

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Charlie Cook loves hockey.

Not really. He loves hockey.

“I’m not talking about anything else,” said the excitable and enthusiastic 12-year-old boy.

The young Blue Jackets fan loves hockey so much that he plays the sport too, and he has a nickname on his team given to him by one of the coaches.

“So I just have to warn you, it’s already out,” he said of the nickname. “But I’m the Secret Weapon. So I’m telling you, it’s even better known. The word is going to spread all over the country.”

All of this, of course, is normal for 12-year-olds in central Ohio. But that’s not entirely normal for a child who suffered a stroke in utero and had to live with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects a person’s ability to move and maintain balance. and posture, not to mention the most common motor disability in childhood.

In some ways, it’s a miracle that Charlie is still alive. It’s even more of a miracle that he can walk. And the fact that he can play hockey?

“It’s amazing,” said her mother, Valerie. “It’s more than you can ask for. It’s a bit overwhelming, actually.”

Blue Jackets fans met Charlie two winters ago when he was celebrated as part of the team’s Hockey Is For Everyone night. He took to the ice for the starting lineup that night in a CBJ jersey and lined up with team captain Nick Foligno.

Video: [email protected]: Blue Jackets host, hockey is for everyone

Today, he’s back in a much different capacity for Kids Takeover Day. Charlie has been selected to be the public announcer for the day – move on, Greg Murray – and will present the starting lineups for the game as well as other updates throughout the game.

Will there be nerves?

“Not too much,” said Charlie, who also takes part in local theater productions. “I can be on camera.”

Tweet from @PA4CBJ: Charlie has this one…#CBJ pic.twitter.com/repTg6Yver

Valerie added: “He loves whenever he can be in front of an audience. That’s honestly where he shines. It’s just a great opportunity and a great way to keep him excited, especially because he doesn’t there haven’t been a lot of acting opportunities through COVID and everything That’s one of the things that’s really caught the eye is his community theater He’s starting to get back to it a bit, but coming to do something like that is super fun, especially at the end of it all.

It may not be playing hockey, which Charlie would prefer, but it will still be a fun day for the Cook family around the sport. He came into the game because he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his brother Robbie, goalkeeper for the Olentangy Liberty high school team, and there was never a time when he didn’t see himself as someone who could practice the sport despite his physical limitations. .

Video: Charlie’s Story

He got his start on the ice with the Columbus Blades sledge hockey team, but that wasn’t where he wanted to stop

“He’s been talking about it since he was young. I want to play hockey like everyone else,” said Valérie. “When he was very young and he wasn’t even walking yet, someone approached us and said, ‘Do you know there’s a sledge hockey team? So we took him out and we put him on a sled and we asked him, “What do you think? It can finally be something you can do with your big brother.” And he said, ‘No, I think I want to play standing hockey.'”

Now Charlie can not only walk but skate. He first took to the ice in a gait trainer, a metal tool he could strap onto that allowed him to skate but kept him upright if he lost his balance. Now he skates sans and is a member of the CCYHA Special Hockey Program; earlier this month he skated at the USA Hockey Disabled Festival in Pittsburgh and scored one goal in two games.

“It’s so fun to see him there, to see all the progress he’s made to be able to be there, and not just traveling with the team, but being able to skate with his team is exciting,” said said Valerie. “It seems like a quick thing, but he’s put in so much work in 12 years to be able to do what he sees as the best thing you can do with other people.”

But for today, Cook is in the press box as the PA announcer. How excited is he to be back in the Nationwide Arena?

“Amazingly,” Charlie said. “It’s the best event ever! »