2022 23 npt boily hospital visit

Boily makes heartwarming holiday visits

National Para Hockey Team forward Vincent Boily visited Montreal hospitals during the holiday season to meet with young patients and motivate them to keep believing in their dreams

François Lafleur
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January 12, 2023
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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 universitaire Sainte-Justine.

“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 mentally.”

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 meet him.

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.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

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