WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- A local shop is stepping up to help a high school hockey player who suffered serious injuries in his game against a team in western Mass. Many people and organizations across the nation continue to support Bishop Feehan's A.J. Quetta.
A Western Mass News crew was at West Springfield's Bertelli's Skate Shop, where they are selling A.J. Quetta hats, where all the proceeds will go to A.J. and his family.
Bertelli's told Western Mass News they wanted to support the Quetta family after A.J. suffered a severe spinal cord injury in his game in West Springfield against Pope Francis back on January 26.
The skate shop is now selling A.J. hats, with his number 10 jersey placed over a shamrock. All of the money will go to the Quetta family, helping A.J. as the hockey player continues to get treatment in Atlanta.
"We had a customer come in and asked us to do some hats for her, and we sat down and thought about it. We thought of putting more [orders] in and doing some ourselves. Putting the proceeds to A.J.'s family would be our way of helping out," said the owner of Bertelli's Skate Shop, Jay Passerini.
Initially, Passerini ordered a few of the hats, not knowing how many people would purchase them, but once word got out, he said they are already onto their next order due to the numerous calls they are getting for A.J. hats.
Passerini told Western Mass News the hat idea came from one woman who was passionate about helping A.J., Laura Sapelli, who has been working at Olympia Ice Center in West Springfield for years, the same place A.J. was injured.
"Out of all the years I've been doing this, nothing like that has ever happened before. It hit us all hard," she said.
Especially hard for the ones who witnessed it.
"Three of the referees that were working that game, I work with them during my high school games, and I know them well," she explained. "One of them, themselves, had gone through a traumatic experience like that, and [it] hit him hard and all of us hard."
So what did Sapelli do? She went to Bertelli's skate shop in West Springfield and teamed up.
"I said, you know, I want to do something for all of us to be able to support and recognize A.J. whenever we're at the rink," she added. "So, I went to Jay and said, 'Hey, I want a shamrock, number 10, gold, green, A.J.'s army.'"
Little did Sapelli know it was way more than three refs who wanted these hats.
"So far, I've had at least a dozen people wanting both styles of hats," she said.
Sapelli also told Western Mass News she sent hats to the Quetta family and should be getting them tomorrow.
On Tuesday, Quetta transferred to a rehabilitation center in Atlanta that specializes in spinal cord injuries.
If anyone would like to purchase a hat and help A.J. in his recovery, click here.