But on the Sunday before Christmas, little Greyson got croup, that nasty sounding cough almost every kid comes down with at some point. I can still hear that impossibly low, wet rasp coming from my children’s tiny little bodies as the steamer bubbled away below their beds.
John and his family have settled back into their hometown of Haileybury (near New Liskeard), now part of the northern Ontario city of Temiskaming Shores. It is a great life. Shelly, his wife of six years, is director of corporate services for the city and John is teaching at the local high school.
But John was concerned about the cough and took Greyson to the emergency department at the hospital where they gave him steroids and allowed him to breathe in some epinephrine to help clear his breathing passage. Monday was much better. Greyson, who was a rambunctious, spirited little guy, spent the day playing with friends and later that night jumped up and down on his bed yelling “I’m not sick” as his parents kept a close eye on him. At about nine he crawled into bed with his mom and settled in for the night. He was a little restless so Shelly got him a glass of water. A little while later he crawled onto her and when she turned on the light her little boy was grey and breathless.
When she screamed John ran to her, grabbed their son and ran across the street to where a doctor lived and pounded on the door. Getting no immediate answer he yelled at the top of his lungs for help before Shelly urged him back to the house. She was on the line with 911 and they started performing CPR on Greyson. Moments later the doctor arrived with a nurse who also lived on the street. Soon after police and the ambulance arrived and by the time they got to the hospital they had managed to get Greyson’s heart beating again. But the reality was that despite everyone’s best efforts his body had been starved of oxygen for 28 minutes. The next day he was flown to Toronto and John and Shelly followed. As machines helped Greyson breathe, doctors administered a battery tests to try and assess the damage that had been done to his body and young brain. Soon the worst possible news was confirmed – the damage was too great. Greyson Derek Zubyck passed away late Boxing Day morning.
I know as you read this your hearts are breaking as mine is as these words spill from my fingers. But John has put his devastated heart to work on a fundraiser to honour Greyson, and Greyson’s grandfather Gord who was killed in 2011 in a four-wheeler accident. As news spread of this tragedy, the hockey community began to reach out. John started the One Step Forward Foundation and is hosting a day full of activities in Temiskaming Shores July 9. A fun run, golf at a privately owned course, and a sports charity dinner that night will all take place to help John reach his goal of $100,000. His uncle is former Guelph Platers coach Jacques Martin, now with Pittsburgh. He’s offered an up close look at the Penquins with a practice, tickets to the game that night and accommodations. Former NHLer Jamal Mayers, who played for Shelly’s brother at Western Michigan University, is now with the Chicago Blackhawks and has offered a meet-and-greet with the team, tickets to a game with all hotel costs covered. Autographed sweaters and sticks are pouring in from people John has met through hockey.
“I shed tears every day as people from my past offer to help,” said Zubyck. “The hockey community is so tight. I haven’t talked to these people for 10 to 15 years and they are supporting me. It is helping me heal and keep focused. It’s called One Step Forward because that’s all we can do after something like this – every day you have to take that one step.”
There are no words that could possibly explain the grief and sadness the Zubyck family is feeling. Guelph is a long way from Haileybury but if you’d like to help you can reach out through
Canada Helps Organization
Rest in peace little Greyson.
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