"We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection."
Whether you know Michael Bunn as a teammate, a friend, or simply as a hockey player, then you know that he is a man who has shown great trust, respect, kindness, and affection on and off the ice, as he has vulnerably shared his story of addiction alongside his pursuit of his true passion, ice hockey.
When Covid-19 hit, Michael’s world changed dramatically, especially as a recovering addict. He lost his routine. His hockey was canceled. He lost his income. His NA meetings were canceled. His gym closed. He lost the daily meetings with his support group.
On Monday morning, April 20, after spending the weekend with his mom in Wake Forest, Michael left his mother’s home to return to Winston Salem. He was scheduled to work that day at a local store where he had been hired after the hockey season had been canceled. However, Michael never made it to work that day. He was found unconscious in his car, with the engine still running, at 2:45 that afternoon. Michael was parked in an open parking lot right off of the interstate. It was raining very hard that morning, and we may never know what caused him to pull over, but he suffered loss of oxygen to the brain causing a hypoxic brain injury due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
Immediately Michael was intubated and on a ventilator in ICU, where he remained for 2 weeks. He eventually regained consciousness and was moved to a step-down floor of the hospital. Michael has a tracheostomy for breathing, a feeding tube, and is not able to move. He can only blink his eyes on command. Michael most recently developed sepsis from a bacterial infection, which is currently being treated with high-powered antibiotics. Once over this hurdle, it is our intention to have Michael moved to a brain injury rehabilitation facility for in-patient care, where he will begin his difficult journey back to us
We do not know at what level he will recover from this brain injury. We have no idea what all the costs associated with his care will be. While we are praying and believing for a full recovery, he may require medical care for the rest of his life.
We started this Caring Bridge site for Michael a couple of days after the injury, and have had over 55,000 visits so far. The outpouring has been overwhelming and so encouraging. Many of Michael’s fans, friends, and family members have asked us about a GoFundMe site to help with his medical expenses. We are truly grateful for all that want to come alongside of us and be a part of this journey with us.
Michael, age 25, displayed great promise as a professional hockey player, but as you may or may not know, his road to The Carolina Thunderbirds has not been an easy one, but one Michael tackled with determination.
In 2012 at the age of 17, he was drafted into the USHL, (United States Hockey League). He left his high school, and hockey team at The Culver Academies, in Culver, Indiana, and set out to Lincoln, Nebraska to play for the Lincoln Stars, where he pursued his lifelong dream to become a professional hockey player.
While attending the USHL training camp, Michael suffered a torn ACL and returned home for surgery. As part of his recovery, Michael was prescribed opiates by his physicians and he returned to the ice, determined to play through the pain. Like many, Michael sadly developed an addiction to the prescribed opiates and returned home to Wake Forest, NC, in 2013 where he spent the next 3 years in active addiction.
In March 2017, Michael, much to our relief, asked for help with his opiate addiction and willingly checked himself into Fellowship Hall in Greensboro, NC, where he began their in-patient program. Michael was diligent and went to every meeting, met with his counselor each day, and participated in all discussions. He showed great determination, and he successfully completed this program in 90 days.
In the fall of 2018, clean from drugs for 18 months, and still attending outpatient Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings, Michael began to pursue his dream once again. He attended the tryout camp for the Carolina Thunderbirds, FPHL, in Winston Salem, NC. Although he had not skated in quite a while and was not in hockey shape, the coach saw promise and potential in Michael and selected him to be part of the team. Michael was the only player on the team from North Carolina, as many of the players are from the Czech Republic, Canada, and Russia.
With this opportunity of a fresh start and the goal of pursuing his life long passion of becoming a professional hockey player, Michael worked very hard to get back into hockey shape and be the best player he could be. He has played for The Carolina Thunderbirds for the last 3 seasons. Last year, the team won the National Championship, took the Commissioner’s Cup, and Michael was named the MVP of the tournament. In addition, Michael was named one of this seasons team captains. A responsibility Michael took very seriously.
Michael made Winston Salem his home, alongside his fiancé and her 2-year-old son, whom he adores. Although Michael has had several invitations to move up into higher professional leagues, he chose to stay with his Thunderbird flock and enjoy the home he created in Winston Salem.
We cannot begin to say thank you for anything and everything that people have done to help Michael through this. Every like, share, and donation literally means the world to us. Your financial help and prayers are truly appreciated.
Sincerely, Lynn and David Bunn
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