MANDAN, N.D. (KXNET) — Martin Heberlie’s life was turned upside down on August 25.
“I remember feeling an excruciating pain in my back,” said Heberlie.
Martin was a football player for Berthold. It was at a Friday night football game that was nearly over when Martin was tackled.
“You guys know downward dog? That’s what I did to get up and look for the ball. And then I was hit in the chest really hard. And from what I was told, I folded backwards. You know how you shouldn’t be folded,” said Heberlie.
Martin knew he was hurt but didn’t think it was that bad, until he couldn’t get up.
“I was thinking, ‘What’s your problem? Why are you not getting up, Martin?'” said Heberlie.
Martin was paralyzed from the waist down and was transported to Minot ER. Doctors diagnosed Martin with a Spinal Cord Injury without radiographic abnormality, which means there are signs of a posttraumatic spinal cord injury without evidence of a fracture or a malalignment.
“Martin, what you have only affects about 20% of kids, and it is usually located in the neck. My problem is I have it in the lower back.”
Now Martin is in a wheelchair, but that doesn’t stop his positive attitude. He now goes to physical therapy 4 times a week.
A teacher at Mandan Middle School used to be Martin’s neighbor. When she heard of his accident, she decided to get her class to write get well cards.
“We mainly did it because it was Mrs. H’s neighbor, so there was kind of a connection, and we just thought it was a good idea,” said Abby Bowers, a Mandan student.
Students were quite shocked when Martin decided to give thank you notes this Wednesday, and that he dropped by to hand them out himself.
Another shocking quality was how upbeat Martin’s personality is.
“I kind of felt it was great to be positive, because once you’re positive it pushes you to be able to do what you did after an accident,” said Bowers.
Martin’s big message to the students was to be positive and to spread positivity to others.
Martin says he owes everything to his family and friends for supporting him.
“If it weren’t for my friends and family who had supported me on that night, who had looked out for me who told me I can do it, I am good enough, I am strong enough, I don’t think I would be here right now talking to all of you guys,” said Heberlie.
Doctors are not sure if Martin will ever fully recover, but with a positive attitude like his, he sure has a fighting chance.