SUGAR LAND - None of us know what tomorrow brings. The uncertainty is what makes life so precious. Jake Dowell knows that feeling all too well.
"There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about it," said Dowell.
For the better part of 28 years all the Eau Claire Wisconsin native focused on was hockey.
"It’s pretty much dictated what I’ve done and where I’ve been in my life," said Dowell.
He won a national title at Wisconsin and has skated alongside the best in the N-H-L. All of this, under the watchful eye of his parents.
"It’s something that’s been a constant in our life and something that has been a release," said Dowell. "Something to focus on and something that brings a lot of joy to our family."
Happiness, which for The Dowell’s hasn’t been easy to find.
"I had never heard of the disease. I had no clue what it was or how it would unfold," said Dowell.
In 2002, Jake’s father John was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, a brain disorder which alters a person’s movements, behavior and speech and one that has no cure.
"It affects the mind and the body and it basically just shuts everything down," said Dowell.
What’s worse, the disease is also genetic.
"It’s scary to know that I have a 50-50 chance of having it," said Dowell.
You see, Jake’s brother Lucas also suffers from Huntington’s and the possibility that Jake is a carrier of the disease is also very high.
"I had a couple of years where I felt sad and bad for myself when I was in college," said Dowell.
Because of the his dad’s and brother’s condition, the family can no longer come see him play and Jake has to take the ice each day knowing it all could all be taken away.
"At some point, I will get tested before I have kids but right now, It’s still kind of scary and we have to be ready to find out the news, whether it’s good or bad," said Dowell.
For now, he and his wife Carly are putting off that decision. Instead, he’s using hockey as a platform to spread awareness…and joy.
As was the case back in 2010 when Jake, then with the Chicago Blackhawks, met 5-year old Griffin Bohan, a little boy who had brain cancer, who’s wish was to meet a professional hockey player.
Griffin passed away shortly after they met.
But those few moments, just like his entire journey, have assured Jake that life is more than just sports.
And he’s treating every day…on and off the ice…like the gifts they really are.