BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - "Six years ago, life as I knew it changed forever. My son taught me how to never stop believing, be strong, and never give up. Tonight he defied the odds and returned to the ice with his brother -- who saved his life, never left his side, and never let his dream die," said Heidi Kramer.
Kramer's son Kyle was diagnosed with AML leukemia six years ago and underwent a bone marrow transplant from his brother Danny. Graph VS Host Disease (GVHD) has kept Kyle from the sports he loves.
Kyle is leading the research on a new brace called Ultraflex. The brace has been used for kids with cerebral palsy and other diseases, but never for GVHD. Wearing the brace on his right arm while sleeping has improved his range of motion.
Kyle's ultimate goal of playing hockey his senior year at Gov. Livingston is becoming a reality. With clearance from his doctors at Sloan Kettering, Kyle has been training for three months to be ready for the spring season with the Highlanders hockey team.
The Highlanders were plagued with injury and a short bench last season which fueled Kyle's motivation. He knew he should be out there helping the team.
"He was at every home game supporting us. If he was out there, he definitely would have helped us," said Danny, who is currently a freshman at Gov. Livingston.
"He never gave up -- he's eating more, he's motivated and doing what the physical therapist tells him to do," said Heidi.
"I was anticipating playing -- I was optimistic about playing senior year and working towards getting cleared," said Kyle.
Kyle's range of motion is steadily improving and he plans to pick out areas that need work and train hard for the winter season. "There is still stuff I have to work on, but I can keep up. I need to work a little bit on speed, but I'm close to where I was," said Kyle.
This spring season is full contact hockey playing against chippy players said Danny.
"Checking doesn't bother me, I just have to get right back up. Keep your head up," said Kyle.
Kyle currently plays left wing and plans to switch between left and right wing with his protective brother as center.
The Kramer brothers, when not on the ice, play street hockey in the driveway. The plays, positioning and reaction to the game come naturally to the brothers. Their sibling bond and chemistry shine both on and off the ice.
No goal is set too high for the Kramers, Kyle would like to see the Highlanders make the States next season.
"My goal is to say that Berkeley Heights is very well known for its good baseball program and hockey program," added Kyle's dad, Bob Kramer. "Over the next couple of years, there are a ton of kids coming up. Matt Anderson is doing a phenomenal job at Union Sports Arena building the program."