14 months ago, Jake Dowell learned he did not have Huntington's disease, a neurological genetic condition that kills brain cells. It changed his life perspective immediately.
"A reset for me in my mind to approach things differently. In my mind, I thought I was sick the whole time. I was planning my life for the age I could possibly get sick," Dowell said.
Hockey is Dowell's outlet. His team is lucky to have him, and his family is grateful to watch him.
"He's a good warrior for us, a good leader. He's a good mentor for the young kids as well," says IceHogs head coach Ted Dent.
"When my Dad was alive, that was something that brought a lot of joy to him. My Mom still follows every game, she's a big fan," Dowell said.
More than a year after receiving the good medical news, Jake Dowell moves forward professionally after his negative test. He wears the captain's sweater every night for the Rockford IceHogs. Personally, Huntington's still affects Jake on a daily basis. The disease took his father, and his brother battles it everyday.
"It's always tough thinking about that, and thinking about how long my brother has been battling this. It's just sad. It's hard to comprehend now that I know I won't be sick from this disease. I'm fortunate I have the family that I do," Dowell said.
The Dowell family is about to gain a new member, too.
"Got another kid coming in a couple weeks. I'll enjoy things as they come. Have a completely different outlook on everything."
The 31-year old Dowell has 300 games with the IceHogs under his belt, and expects that total to keep rising.
"I don't think I want to be done yet. I'm fortunate to play right now and play at my age so I'll play for as long as I can," Dowell said.
More than a year after receiving a new lease on life, Jake Dowell forges ahead with a fierce spirit on and off the ice.