By Debbie Juniewicz
Dayton Daily News
DAYTON, Ohio – Panic set in quickly.
Both legs and the left side of his face where completely numb when he woke up. Mike Campaner couldn’t get out of bed; he could barely move.
The Colgate University senior was terrified.
“I had no idea what was wrong with me,” he said.
But while the uncertainty was frightening, the realization of his condition was devastating. After a battery of tests – including a series of MRIs and a spinal tap – Campaner, then 23, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. After almost 20 years on the ice, the Raiders defenseman closed out his collegiate hockey career from the stands.
“I thought I’d never play hockey again; it was freaking me out,” he said. “I was at a pretty low point, watching my team … trying to be supportive but thinking I’d never be back out there.”
Saturday, when Dayton hosts Elmira, Campaner will lace up his skates for his 63rd game as a Dayton Bombers defenseman.
“I’ll never be the same athlete I was, I know that,” the 25-year-old Bombers rookie said. “There are days my legs and arms hurt and sometimes I’m exhausted, but this is what I want to be doing.”
Campaner is not alone; he is one of approximately 400,000 people living with multiple sclerosis in the U.S. Providence Bruins goalie Jordan Sigalet and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Kelly Sutton are two other athletes who battle the disease, as well as the competition.
“Many people with MS lead fairly routine lives,” said Dr. Kenneth Pugar, a board-certified neurologist with the Dayton Center for Neurological Disorders. “MS is still the No. 1 crippler of young adults, but you probably know people who have it and you’d never know it unless they told you.”