Five years ago, Vincent Boily spent his holidays in the hospital. This
year, he did it again.
This time, however, it was to meet young patients who are living the same
reality he was in 2017.
On Jan. 6, the National Para Hockey Team rookie visited the Centre de
réadaptation Marie Enfant at CHU Sainte-Justine, the Institut de
réadaptation Gingras-Lindsay-de-Montréal and the Centre hospitalier
“It's about giving back and giving time to people, keeping them motivated,”
says the 22-year-old. “It can be harder at this time of year. I've been in
their shoes so I can understand how they feel. I try to give them a little
boost and make them smile a little bit.”
On Dec. 26, 2017, Boily was involved in a snowmobile accident, which almost
paralyzed him and ended his hopes of pursuing a professional hockey career.
“I stayed in the hospital until March,” says the Alma, Que., native. “For
the first two weeks, I wasn't allowed to have visitors so I spent most of
my holiday season alone. It made me realize how many other people were in
the same situation. Normally this is a time of year when you are surrounded
by family and joy. That year it was the opposite. It was very difficult
Over the years, Boily began to gain notoriety across Quebec for his story.
His story is known well enough to have been contacted by a young man who
was being treated at Sainte-Justine Hospital. The message he received only
strengthened his resolve to reach out to people.
“One child in particular had texted me,” recalls Boily. “He was going
through a very difficult time. He was an athlete before he got cancer. He
texted me with the help of his parents to see if I could come and visit him
during the holidays. It opened my mind and I thought that if I was going to
see one person, I might as well try to see as many people as possible to
share my story.”
Boily is getting used to the different questions the kids have when they
More often than not, the conversation eventually turns to hockey, which
helps build a bond.
“When they see something wrong with me, they go straight to the point and
ask me why I'm limping,” says Boily, who got his first taste of
international hockey this season. “When they find out I'm on the National
Para Hockey Team, they're very interested in that. There's a story of
perseverance behind it. People are extremely touched because they can
relate to their own situation. Even if they don't necessarily have to
overcome such big obstacles, we can all learn from our different
situations. Things usually work out great in the end.”
Of course, Boily is in a good position to tell young people that they
should never feel sorry for themselves in life, no matter what happens.
That's the message he tried to deliver throughout his recent visits.
“The important thing is to remind all these young people that there are
great things ahead for them,” Boily says. “To get where I am today, I had
to believe in myself. It was hard at times, but I hung in there. I'm glad
I've come this far to get to where I am now. Even if something happens to
them, it's not the end of their story. They decide what chapters are left
to be written.”
In addition to the children, Boily also took the opportunity to thank the
health care staffs working at the various hospitals.
While the holiday season is about family for so many, the dedicated staffs
sacrifice their moments of celebration to spend it with their patients.
“I experienced it when I was in the hospital,” Boily says. “I was always
with great nurses. They were constantly taking care of me. It goes beyond
their profession, and I think that's remarkable. Maybe some of the staff
will recognize me. I want to show them that I am grateful for their
dedication to me, but also to all the young people who are in hospitals
now. If it wasn't for them, I might not be where I am today.”