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Professional athletes wish New Ipswich boy speedy recovery from a bicycle accident

  • Josiah “JoJo” Hakala, 10, of New Ipswich, is in a hospital in Massachusetts after a bicycle accident lacerated his liver and damaged his pancreas. Hakala has received more than a handful of personalized well wishes from professional athletes since he was injured.  Courtesy photo

  • Milan Lucic, a hockey player on the Boston Bruins, sent this video recording wishing  Josiah Hakala, 10, of New Ipswich, a speedy recovery after the young man sustained injuries after a bicycle accident in early December.  Courtesy photo

  • Josiah “JoJo” Hakala, 10, of New Ipswich, is in the hospital after a bicycle accident lacerated his liver and damaged his pancreas. Courtesy photo



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A 10-year-old boy from New Ipswich has drawn recognition from professional athletes who are wishing him a speedy recovery from a bike accident that he was involved in earlier this month.

Josiah “JoJo” Hakala was riding his bike on Dec. 7 when he fell off and hit his stomach on the handlebars. His dad, Jeffrey, said the family didn’t think much of the injury at first, but it kept getting worse. It got so bad that Hakala was taken to the hospital in Peterborough where it was determined that he had three liver lacerations and a bruised pancreas.

Hakala was airlifted to a medical center in Worcester, Mass. Hakala’s liver has stopped bleeding, although a hematoma on his pancreas has become a problem. Last week, a surgical team attempted to open the blockage in Hakala’s pancreatic duct but were unable to get through the damaged area. Late Tuesday morning, a day after Christmas, Jeffrey said his son was receiving a bunch of testing.

“Right now the doctors are not sure about the course. It’s up in the air about what they are going to do,” Jeffrey said.

Hakala has spent about three weeks being closely monitored in the hospital. Jeffrey said it’s unclear how long his son will have to stay in the hospital. Jeffrey said this period in the hospital has been “really tough” on his son. 

Jesse Dixon, who lives in Bedford, said when he heard about Hakala’s bike accident, he knew he needed to help in some way. Dixon said he met Josiah through his 11-year-old son Leo. The two boys compete in golf tournaments and over the years they have grown close.

“Every once in awhile you meet a person that has such excellent character and is sincere and it’s unforgettable,” Dixon said. “And for Leo and I, that person is Josiah.”

Through Dixon’s job, he was able to contact more than a handful of athletes who have recorded personalized videos wishing Hakala a speedy recovery. Among the athletes are Brock Holt, who plays for the Red Sox, Troy Brown, a former wide receiver for the New England Patriots, and Milan Lucic, Matt Beleskey, and Torey Krug, who all play for the Boston Bruins, to name a few.

Many of the messages are similar to each other, the overarching theme throughout is the players wishing Hakala a Merry Christmas and a speedy recovery process.

Hakala is an avid hockey and golf fan, which have made some of the messages even a little more special. 

“I heard about your accident and I wanted to let you know I’m praying for you and thinking about you,” Holt said in his video. “I hope you have a speedy recovery and a very Merry Christmas.”

Professional golfer Lexi Thompson said she hoped to see Hakala on the golf course someday.

Dixon called Hakala an “exceptional” golfer. He said his list of accomplishments is impressive for Hakala’s age.

Jeffrey, who is the golf coach at Mascenic, said his son started playing golf when he was 2 years old and has been competing since he was 5 years old. Hakala began competing in the U.S. Kids Boston Local Tour. He has played in 90 tournaments placing first 37 times, second 25 times, and third 14 times, according to a bio on a GoFundMe site to raise money for Hakala. The 10-year-old has won eight tour championships and competed in three world championships, which are held in North Carolina, according to the site. He is currently ranked 63rd in the world.

Jeffrey said his son does really well in the local competitions but hasn’t performed to his highest potential in the larger competitions. But Dixon was less modest about Hakala’s skill.

“What [Hakala] has accomplished in 10 years is incredible,” he said.

Dixon said that Hakala has inspired Dixon’s own son to improve his game, be more relaxed, and have fun on the course.

Mike Martel, Hakala’s grandfather, said the boy is “incredibly dedicated to the game of golf.”

“I was a baseball coach for a lot of years, and most kids at that age have to be encouraged to practice, but he’s out there on his own hitting golf balls into the net by himself,” Martel said.

Sometimes Martel said Hakala will be out practicing for hours. He said that dedication has led him to become a “very, very good golfer” in a short period of time.

More, Martel said, is that Hakala is a polite young man, even on the golf course.

“If someone is having a bad day, [Hakala] will go up to them and encourage them,” Martel said. “He’s a pretty unusual boy.”

Dixon – who helped launch a GoFundMe site with the lofty goal of raising $200,000 to help aid with Hakala’s recovery costs, his education, and his dream to play in the Professional Golfers Association – said he wouldn’t put this kind of work into something for just anyone.

“It’s not often that you meet a family that’s really exceptional,” Dixon said.  “I wouldn’t do this if they weren’t.”

Abby Kessler can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 234 or akessler@ledgertranscript.com.