The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

Zimmerman named honorary member of men’s hockey team


One year ago, Sam Zimmerman was just your typical nine-year-old boy, but today, he is a survivor. Zimmerman suffered from what was a sinus infection that went undiagnosed by doctors.

“They said it was a virus and sent him home and said to bring him back in two days if he wasn’t feeling better,” explained Sam’s father, Jeff Zimmerman. “We went through that for three or four days, and when he finally stopped eating, that’s when we took him to Children’s.”

Sam woke up on April 26, 2012 and couldn’t move the right side of his body. 

“He was trying to grab his clothes and he couldn’t touch them,” recalled Sam’s mother, Lindsay Zimmerman.

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From there, an ambulance took him to the hospital, and a team of neurosurgeons were baffled about what was going on.

“They took him to the MRI, and he had a seizure,” said Lindsay.  “The doctors had to remove the right side of his skull because the bone was already infected and wash the brain out on the right side and some on the left, spent 11 days in ICU.” 

The illness got into the sinus cavity, and instead of exiting the body normally, the strep went up into his brain along his optic nerve, thus beginning a long and grueling recovery process for Sam and his family.

“The doctors said he may be in a vegetative state, he may have cognitive problems, he may never recover and be wheelchair bound,” said Lindsay.

“And they said he would have some level of brain damage, and he would probably be crippled for the rest of his life,” added Jeff.”

Six surgeries later, he is now preparing to be the newest member of the RMU NCAA men’s hockey team. With the help of Team IMPACT, and the Colonials, Zimmerman was invited to become an honorary member of the men’s hockey team.

On Wednesday, April 24, 2013 in front of family, and future coaches and teammates, Zimmerman signed his contract to be an honorary member of the Colonials for the 2013-2014 season. 

“I think it’s a cool opportunity to have Sam on our team,” said defenseman, Andrew Blazek. “I think we’ll learn a lot more from him, and he will learn from us.”

Through the process, their former captain, Chris Kushneriuk who was diagnosed with testicular cancer last summer, has also motivated the team.

“Charity work is good always a good thing.  It gives you such a good feeling to help out and help others,” said Blazek. “Chris said it just made him realize how much you want to help others.”

Sam is ready to be a member of the 2013-2014 squad where he will wear the number 20 jersey.

“I think it’s great, I’m excited to be on this team,” stated Sam with a smile. “I’m hoping to skate with the team and be aggressive.”

For more information on Team IMPACT, please visit,

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