ROCHESTER, Minn. - By all accounts, Matt Olson is usually the hardest working person in the room.
That’s no different now as his work ethic is tested like never before.
“I really like to focus in on the time that I have and it’s fun to actually work hard. I’m used to it. I know what it takes to set a goal and reach that goal,” said Olson.
For the first time, Olson spoke about his injury he suffered while playing hockey in February. Doctors call it the most severe spinal cord injury there is.
"I remember everything,” he said.
Olson, 20 was playing junior hockey in Chicago with the hometown team Chicago Cougars when he lost his balance going full speed into the boards.
"I remember laying there and right away I knew I couldn’t move. First thing I tried to do was to move and I couldn’t,” he said.
A once standout hockey player for Totino-Grace and the defenseman of the year for his current league, Olson was faced with an uncertain future.
"It was just crazy really to think about, everything was moving fast you know,” he said.
Fast- forward to today where he is recovering at the Mayo Clinic. He exercises every day. KARE 11 captured him biking with the help of a machine that sent signals to his muscles to mimic riding a bike. His physical therapist says it essentially gets him closer to becoming independent.
"Part of this is a trial and error,” said Dr. Ronald Reeves
His doctor expects he'll regain some strength back in his arms but that's about it.
"His attitude is fantastic. He’s a hard worker and is doing a great job mastering things that sometimes take people much, much longer than it’s taken Matt,” said Reeves.
After the accident, Olson spend several weeks at a hospital in Chicago where he underwent surgery. He regained the ability to eat and speak when he was moved to Rochester.
"I haven’t changed one bit. My personality hasn’t changed. I’m still the funny guy I kind of was. Crack good jokes every once and awhile,” he said with a smile.
His parents say they are immensely proud of their youngest son who is making the best of a difficult situation.
"He’s enjoying it and that’s also nice to see,” said his mother, Sue Olson
His parents and girlfriend are by his side this day, many others have been too.
"Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent on how you handle it and I think he’s doing a good job of that,” said his father, Doug Olson.
And doing it while on a new path taking smaller strides but those close to him say with the same big heart.
"Nothing is going to get in my way to do what I want to do,” said Olson.
He, along with his family wanted to thank everyone who has supported them. They say it has helped them a lot.
Olson’s father says he hopes his son will leave Rochester by the end of the month where he’ll then go to Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute.
The Olsons are in the process of building a new home next to their existing one in Isanti that will better suit Matt’s needs. All of it, the care, and the new home costs a lot of money.
A GoFundMe page has been set up, as well as a fundraising account to help Matt which is below.
North American Banking Co.
c/o Matt Olson Benefit
2230 Albert St.
Roseville, MN 55113