#MasonStrong: Wrestlers turn out to support team member’s recovery from December sledding accident

It wasn’t just the warmth of Insomnia cookies brought to him that made junior Mason McCartan’s face light up, but the warmth of a room filled with love and support.

On Dec. 29, 2017, McCartan was involved in a sledding accident when he was creating memories with friends.

“It was a pure accident, a freak accident,” Jen McCartan, the mother of Mason, said.

McCartan endured numerous skull fractures, five broken ribs, fractures around his spine and a lung contusion due to the accident.

McCartan wasn’t fully conscious at the scene of the accident, but EMT’s later told his parents he was moaning, which was a good sign, and that he faced no bruising on his body when the ambulance arrived.

His mother received a call at 1:30 p.m. from one of the friends who was sledding with her son.

McCartan was taken to Sartori Memorial Hospital for his first stop, and his mother said the medical staff caught and diagnosed every injury on the CT scan, right away.

“I assumed it was just a broken leg,” Ron McCartan, the father of Mason, said.

McCartan’s parents were able to see him after an hour and a half of waiting at Sartori and were given the news that he would have to travel to Iowa City to the placed in the Intensive Care Unit. Leaving at 5:30 p.m. that night, McCartan and his family spent 21 days in Iowa City.

“It was so overwhelming, it was hard to even put into words. There was so much disbelief, it was hard to seem real,” said both parents, Jen and Ron.

McCartan spent the first 15 days on the third floor in the ICU, giving his brain and body a rest.

It took a total of two weeks, after giving McCartan time to heal, for the doctors to slowly take him off all machines.

“The support from the medical staff as well was unbelievably amazing,” Jen McCartan said.

For the last six days, he moved down to the pediatrics floor until he was later able to transfer to Covenant Medical Center on Thursday, Jan. 18.

“There was just genuine concern and support for the first 24ish hours,” Jen said.

When arriving at Covenant Medical Center, McCartan wasn’t able to move the right side of his body or have memories of up until then.

Two weeks ago, he wasn’t able to walk or talk. On Jan., 22, McCartan took his first steps with a walker on his own.

Now, he is surpassing his estimated behavior and his long term memory is intact. In physical and recreational therapy, he is able to kick balls, play card games, bake cookies and play bags, and he has the opportunity to go to the River Hills pool and more.

“We had no idea what Mason we would get back,” Ron said.

McCartan is also doing well in other areas of therapy such as speech, activities for daily living, therapeutic and occupational, and everyone is pleased with his progress.

“He has exceeded all of the doctors’ and therapists’ expectations,” Jen said.

Since the accident, #MasonStrong has flooded social media platforms of all ages throughout the Cedar Falls Community.

McCartan’s aunt had sent the family a text message in the midst of the chaotic few weeks and ended with “#MasonStrong.”

“She sent it one day, and we were like, ‘That’s it!’” Ron said.

McCartan’s close knit friend group of boys—juniors Dakota Southworth, Jack Gilbert, Christian Simpson and Jacob Berry—also put out the #MasonStrong on T-shirts and posts around the same time.

“I feel like when he sees the shirt and others wearing them, it makes him work harder at getting better,” Southworth said.

McCartan and his parents said he doesn’t remember being in Iowa City and not much leading up to the accident, but they did mention that they have narrowed it down to 2:30 p.m. on Friday Jan. 19, when he started to remember certain things.

One of his first memories is when his four best friends came to visit at Covenant and they all wore the #MasonStrong T-shirts that Gilbert’s parents had made for them.

“I think it was the boys’ way to give back and show support to their friend,” Ron said.

Among the daily visits, posts or messages from friends and classmates, McCartan has also received bundles of support from the wrestling community.

With a wall aligned with posters, T-shirts and food, local wrestlers, teammates and coaches have added to McCartan’s collection of comfort.

“It feels great, very good to have support,” McCartan said.

South Polk and Union High School wrestling sent a signed poster and prayers to the family, and the Cedar Falls wrestling team also signed a poster. Many teammates have visited him, and his coaches have dropped by his room plenty of times.

“It feels great that we are supporting him and the fact that he is getting better so fast,” Southworth said.

With all the support his wrestling team has given, McCartan is also committed to returning to cheer on his fellow friends and teammates at Districts this weekend.

Coaches from UNI and Iowa have also visited and brought signed posters to hang amongst the other decor. McCartan’s favorite wrestler, Max Thompsen, also paid him a visit a few weeks ago.

The Kelly family, who holds a big name in the wrestling world, has made a big impact in giving support and comfort to the McCartan family.

“The support has been so incredibly overwhelming, but when you’re usually the people that give support, it was hard to take in at first, but we realized it was the only way we were gonna make it through this,” Jen said.

Both parents stated that at least one Kelly has been with McCartan every night with meals, clothes or just to check in.

They even had brought meals the night of the accident, Jen said.

“They have been very generous and given more support than we could have asked for,” Ron said.

Although he isn’t pinning his opponents on the mat, McCartan wrestles with different and new challenges, only regaining new strength and wins.

Friday, Feb. 9 is the families’ discharge goal date. McCartan said he also wishes to gain back the weight he lost, start back up with school in a few months and get better as soon as possible.

“I just wanna go home,” he said.

With the five week mark since the accident coming up, Ron said that his son and the rest of the family still have a long road ahead of them, but he said he is confident in where they are heading.

“He is a walking, talking, miracle.”

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