A northern Minnesota student athlete facing a tough journey after a devastating accident is getting a little help from his community.
Last week, Mason Branstrator of Duluth was skiing at Spirit Mountain with his girlfriend when he suffered a broken back and a spinal cord injury, leaving him hospitalized in the pediatric ICU at Essentia Health.
Branstrator, a student at Duluth East High who was captain of its varsity soccer team as a junior, will soon begin rehabilitation at a facility in Colorado, meaning his family is facing a major lifestyle change as well as serious expenses.
His parents have set up a GoFundMe page seeking $100,000 in donations to help defray the costs of his hospitalization and rehab — many of which won't be covered by insurance, the page says.
The family also says they will "likely need to make modifications in our home" in the future.
As of this writing, their GoFundMe has raised over $37,000.
The page describes Branstrator as a "gifted runner" and "defender that runs like the wind" who "has a big heart and is known by all as a person who is inclusive, kind, and loving."
And his recovery will not be easy. As KBJR reports, the 17-year-old "has very little feeling in his legs, and can't move them," and is "facing the possibility he may never walk again."
But Branstator tells the station he sees one silver lining on the road ahead, saying he "realized that I was going so fast that I never had the time to enjoy what was going on and now I'll have all the time in the world to enjoy what's going on around me."
The family says that any monies raised by the fundraiser will go towards his medical and rehab expanses, with anything left over being applied to his "college fund and future living expenses."