Saturday, March 10, 2018

Peterborough Goalie Blocks Challenge After Challenge

With assistance from guide Josh Reesor, Kawartha Komets goalie Robert McGregor plays Saturday March 10, 2018 at Evinrude Centre Leon's Pad in Peterborough, Ont. Robert, who is blind, recently returned to playing goal after receiving a life-saving kidney transplant from his father John. - Clifford Skarstedt/Examiner

Whether it's been blindness, cognitive challenges, cancer or two kidney transplants, he tackles each obstacle with quiet determination!

As a hockey goalie, Robert McGregor's role is to be an obstacle for shooters, but off the ice he's overcome obstacles all his life.
Whether it's been blindness, cognitive challenges, cancer or two kidney transplants, McGregor tackles each obstacle with quiet determination.
When he went into the hospital in October for his second kidney transplant - this time the donor was his father, John - Robert's goal was to get back in the net for the Jack McGee Kawartha Komets special needs hockey team as soon as possible.
In the 2013-14 season, McGregor, 29, who had his first kidney transplant at age four, never missed a practice or game while undergoing chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. This time he was sidelined for more than three months after his October surgery.
"It sure felt good to get back out there," he said following a Komets game Saturday at the Evinrude Centre. "I set a date I wanted to return to see if I could do it. Going for any type of surgery everyone has their own concerns and one of the questions I asked the doctors is whether I'd be able to play hockey again."
"Rob, without a doubt, has had major challenges," said John McGregor. "Each time he's risen to the occasion. The attitude is he wanted to do it and he could do it and he was going to try to do it. That's very positive and any way I could support that I was going to."
It's been an emotional experience for the father and son.
"There is no doubt it was emotional. There is a part of me which is a part of my son," said John. "My kidney is working inside Rob and it has brought him some health. I am unbelievably thankful."
Josh Reesor has volunteered with the Komets for three years and serves as Robert's sighted guide when he is in net. He says Robert has been an inspiration.
"The passion and enthusiasm he brings to get himself back here is amazing and it's super-infectious," said Reesor. "It was clear how much it meant to the rest of the team to see him come back the first time. Walking into the room everyone's face lit up and there was an extra energy."
Carol Fisher, who founded the Komets with her husband David, said Robert is a positive role model.
"Robert is an amazing young man who has real fortitude," she said. "He's very focused and very positive. He always speaks positively that he will not be defeated by anything. It's really incredible."
Fisher has dealt with cancer and other health issues in the past year and says, "Robert is a good example for me. He really gives me motivation and courage to face some of the challenges I face."
John McGregor admits doctors were hesitant to approve Robert's return to hockey.
"They wanted to make sure Rob had a lot of padding," said John. "They were nervous because the transplanted kidney is in the front in the abdomen and you don't want to take a blow there."
Once they saw how much hockey improved Robert's mental wellness they became more supportive, said John, who was also worried.
"I want Robert to be happy and I'm really, really pleased my kidney can work so well in Robert," he said. "This is a miracle that I'm here having donated a kidney and my son is back playing hockey which he loves doing. I'm back playing squash. It took me a while but by January I was back doing whatever I wanted."
Robert has a message for others going through health issues.
"Stay strong and try to keep your head up and hope," he said. "If anything, hope has kept me going. Try to hold onto hope in any kind of form you can."
John McGregor also encourages others to consider organ donation.
"I'm really thankful for our whole health system that this miracle of transplantation took place for my son," he said. "I'd like to encourage anyone else who finds themselves in this situation, that, yes, you can donate a kidney. It's amazing that we can exist quite healthy and happy on one kidney. I'm a strong proponent for kidney donation so sign those donor cards. The waiting list for Robert would have been four years if I had not been a match."

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