Clay Rayner turned 14 in December.
The chance to celebrate the Kildare teenager’s birthday was not lost on his mother Tina or the rest of his family.
“We’re just appreciating the little things,” she said. “Like appreciating Christmas and Thanksgiving this year even more because we know the outcome could have been horrific.”
Clay was airlifted to the IWK Children’s Hospital this September after the dirt bike he was driving collided with a car near Haywood Road in St. Felix. The collision left the then 13-year-old with several broken bones, a small skull fracture, a punctured lung and swelling and bleeding on the brain.
Clay spent five weeks in the hospital following the crash, returning to PEI just before Halloween. Right now, he’s not allowed to do any high risk activity while he continues to recover, including playing hockey, a sport he loves.
However, on Jan. 4, at the Jacques Cartier Arena in Alberton, Clay briefly stepped onto the ice surface for the first time since the accident for a puck drop to kick off a charity hockey game organized to help his family with medical expenses associated with his recovery. Clay continues to travel to the IWK every six weeks or so for appointments and he has physical therapy once a week on the Island.
“It’s fitting if there was going to be a fundraiser it would be held at the rink,” said Tina.
Westisle Composite High School students Skylar Rayner (no relation), Riley Arsenault and Alyssa Wilkins organized the charity game as a project for their Global Issues class. Beside being friends with the Kildare teen, Clay’s older brother Cole is on Skylar and Riley’s minor hockey team while Clay has played on Skylar’s brother’s hockey team.
“So we knew that Clay was in a motor vehicle accident this past summer and we knew there was going to be a lot of expenses that would come along with that, so we decided he would be a good candidate that we could help out,” explained Riley.
The three Grade 11 students settled on a hockey game because Clay plays and loves the sport.
“We come from a community where a lot of people like to play hockey,” said Riley.
“And who doesn’t love a good hockey game,” added Skylar.
The game was between the Paramedic Association of PEI and Local Minor Hockey Coaches with some special guests. Those special guests included Clay’s father Jason Rayner, uncle Derek Rayner and older brother Ty Rayner, who laced up their skates to play for the coaches team.
Playing two 25 minute periods, the coaches had a lead at the end of first period with a score 6-3. But the paramedics battled back to overtake the coaches for a final score of 10 - 8.
Admission to the game was by donation, there was a 50/50 draw and tickets were being sold on a gift certificate for an Andrews Hockey Program camp valued at $600.
The evening raised $2,386 for Clay and his family.
Tina said it’s great the charity hockey game was organized by the three high school students.
“I think that says a lot about their character, that they thought of Clay and they thought of pulling something as big as this off,” she said. “It’s not really a small fundraiser. It took quite a bit of organization.”
Clay said he’s happy too about what the students have done for him and his family.
He added he’s feeling good and Tina said his recovery has been going well. He’s even returned to school.
Tina said Clay has two more appointments at the IWK in January.
“This time, they will reassess his brain progress, it’s not quite complete, but his recovery is really close to being a 100 per cent,” said Tina, adding Clay still has some mobility issues with the wrist he broke in the accident.
Tina said her son was a little nervous to step onto the ice Saturday.
“But I think it’s good for him do something, even as something small as that,” said Tina. “To show his appreciation.”