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"We've become good friends": Mark Wahlberg inspired by Jake Thibeault's progress after spinal cord injury

Mark Wahlberg inspired by Jake Thibeault’s recovery from spinal cord injury
Mark Wahlberg inspired by Jake Thibeault’s recovery from spinal cord injury 02:45

WELLESLEY - A young man from Fitchburg who was paralyzed while playing hockey is working to regain his strength and mobility. His attitude and effort caught the attention of his friend, actor Mark Wahlberg.

If anyone knows anything about hard work and true grit, it's Jake Thibeault. "I'm a true believer that anything in life you work hard and you want it bad enough you can get it," Thibeault said.

The 20-year-old Babson College sophomore has not lost sight of his goal. He's still an important teammate on the Babson hockey team.

Jake Thibeault
Jake Thibeault, now at Babson College, was paralyzed while playing hockey in high school CBS Boston

This month marks two years since he suffered a severe spinal cord injury in a high school hockey game. The injury left him paralyzed from the waist down, but he has been training and rehabbing relentlessly six days a week and is showing signs of progress.

"I was up in a walker, I can swing my legs through now in a way that it takes all my momentum and all my strength, but I can swing through on my own, but I can't get lock out, that's the biggest thing we are working on right now trying to get my quads to fire," Thibeault said.

His injury has caught the attention of a lot of people across the country. Most notable is Boston native and Hollywood superstar Mark Wahlberg.

The two have been friends since the beginning of Jake's injury. "He gave me a call and I was kind of a little blown away. I was like holy cow. But now it's just a friendship now, we talk often, once or twice a week, text often," Thibeault said.

Jake Thibeault Mark Wahlberg
Jake Thibeault holds up his phone during a call with Mark Wahlberg CBS Boston

"For Jake to have the attitude that he has at the age that he has it's just very inspiring," Wahlberg said on a video call. "We've become good friends. Obviously, we have got a lot in common from being back home and sports and family and all that stuff, but his work ethic and his attitude are something that continue to encourage me every day."

Earlier this week Wahlberg posted Jake's story and rehab on Instagram to inspire others who are facing challenges in life.

"It's gone pretty, pretty viral I guess you could say. Mark was nice enough to put it up. Did not expect it to reach as many people as it did but I am glad it did because if it can help one more person," Thibeault said. "He's an impressive guy in what he does with his life and how he carries himself in his life, it's inspiring to me and it's motivating to me."

Jake says not only is he determined to walk again, but he also has a goal to get back on the ice and skate. He says it's his faith, family and friends that are helping him along is incredible journey.

"My faith has been strengthened drastically from the injury," Thibeault said. "My goal is to walk again, my goal is to skate again. I am confident in achieving that."

"There isn't anything Jake can't accomplish, and he does the work with a smile on his face. He's got God in his life, he's super positive about everything he does," Wahlberg said.  

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