Seventh grade has been a busy school year for Jack Fickes.
He started tennis lessons, joined a basketball team and is playing tennis for Liberty Middle School this spring. He also plays saxophone with his school’s band, takes private violin lessons and is a member of the Licking County Chamber Strings.
“There’s a lot of opportunities popping up for me right now,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
There were times over the years when Jack wasn’t able to participate in activities so it’s been important for him — with support from his parents Lori and Brent — to try new things.
Diagnosed with cancer as an infant, Jack went through years of treatment to remove a tumor on his spine. Operations, and the recovery afterward, have been a significant part of his childhood. After years of hard work and physical therapy, he now uses a cane to get around at home and a wheelchair when he’s at school or playing sports.
Jack spent several years playing sled hockey before his most recent round of surgeries, which took place in 2018 with a follow up procedure in June.
Although he now has to stay off the ice, he took it as an opportunity to try new experiences.
He’s looking forward to playing point guard and doing some traveling to games.
Siblings are able to play on the team — so Jack and his older brother Ben have been playing together — and it’s been fun to get to know other central Ohio athletes, Lori said.
“It’s great for the parents too because while they are playing, you can talk to people going through some of the same things,” she said. “It’s nice to have that support group.”
Living close to Columbus, Licking County families can check out the many adaptive sports offered through the Columbus Parks and Recreation’s Therapeutic Recreation program.
“There’s a lot of opportunities that people might not be aware of,” Lori said.
When he’s not busy with his many activities or school work, Jack still makes time to play some video games with Ben.
He’s looking forward to the tennis season and is considering playing tennis on the Newark High School Tennis team in a few years.
He said he would definitely encourage other kids and teens to check out some of the local adaptive sports programs and get involved.
“It’s a great way to have fun, get to know the game and have a hobby,” he said. “Go for it!”