Ice Hockey Veterans of Chicago: Lighting the lamp on brain injury recovery

Zero Heroes Hockey is a competitive adult ice hockey team based in Chicago, owned and operated by the Marine Corps Veterans. We recently spoke to one the teammates, Alex Martinez who was inspired to lead his team on a mammoth fundraising mission for SameYou.

Alex, a Marine Corps Combat Veteran having served 10 years, explains that his desire to help people comes from a combination of his time in the Marines and his personal upbringing.

“My father was an immigrant from Mexico and always mentioned how people helped him when he was here (in the US) and well maybe I am always looking for a way to payback.”

So why specifically brain injury? Well as a combat Marine Corps Veteran, seeing injury in many forms is part of the job, but for Alex, sometimes the worst are the ones you don’t see. He went on to describe an example of having a friend suffer an aneurysm in 2014.

“A friend of mine who lived in the Boston area was at her workplace and complained that she was not feeling well and that she had a headache. This was the norm due to her stressful job and so her co-workers convinced her to leave for the day. Opting to not see a doctor, she instead decided to go home. That evening, she was found on the doorstep of her house with her door open and we were told that she had passed away due to an aneurysm she had suffered. There was no one around to help… she lived alone.”

When asked what attracted him to SameYou’s work, he described it as an opportunity to support a charity using its unique high-profile position to illuminate the conversation about an issue that has not enjoyed as much awareness as it should.

“With this increased awareness, I hope to see more resources for those who cannot afford recovery, and the availability of more nurses or therapeutic specialists as they are champions for those in recovery.”

To help us realise our mission of increased access to neurorehabilitation, Alex and the rest of the Level Zero Heroes Hockey team were the first to sign up as ‘Emilia’s Game Changers’, and have been hard at work to raise funds and awareness in Chicago through their hockey matches.

“We are a mixed bag of goofballs with a mixed bag of personalities, but we do have one thing in common and that is coming together for this cause. If we can work as a team to win leagues and tournaments, then we can work as a team to raise funds and awareness for SameYou.”

Alex and his team have already raised over $6,000 for SameYou and will continue to raise funds through their team’s matches and merchandise sales. Check out their Instagram page @levelzeroheroeshockey to see what they are up to!