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Josiah’s recovery
Injury sidelined McGee from game, much of senior year
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

March 21. 2013 9:05AM
Oct. 18, 2012 is the night that changed Josiah McGee’s senior year.

It was the final game of the Lynx football team’s regular season schedule. Sole possession of the Eastern South Dakota Conference title was on the line – Brandon Valley or Yankton – and from the kickoff, it was evident the league hardware was going to stay in Brandon.

And it did, as the Lynx rolled to a 42-0 ESD title-winning victory that night.

It’s also the game that sidelined McGee for the remainder of the season and a large share of his senior year at Brandon Valley High School.

Weather conditions that night – chilly temperatures, strong winds and unrelenting rain –were key factors in the injury that happened just after the start of the third quarter.

“I remember the pain,” McGee says from a recliner in the McGee home last week.

The pain he speaks of resulted from a slip on the wet grass that forced the 300-pound lineman into the splits and bent the top portion of his right leg backward. Within a split second, McGee had ripped his hamstring off the bone, shredded his glute, tore his labrum, broke cartilage in his hip and cracked his hipbone.

“The doctors said they’ve never seen all of these injuries combined before,” Cathi Jo said.

From the stands, his mother, Cathi Jo, was unaware of the seriousness of her son’s injury until she was summoned to the field.

“None of us had any idea how bad it was,” she said. “When it first happened, we were all so cold and wanted them to just get playing. Then a friend saw (Randy) Marso calling me and I just felt an emptiness.”

Surgery was almost immediate and followed by six weeks of bed rest, then six weeks of wheelchair use before therapy was initiated so he could learn to walk again.

“He had gotten to the point where he was using a cane and they realized he couldn’t go any further,” Cathi Jo informed, which necessitated a second surgery. That surgery, which repaired his labrum, was done last week. While more painful than his first surgery, the healing process is expected to be faster.

For the third time in his young 18 years of life, McGee will have to learn to walk again following this surgery.

“This is an opportunity for an 18-year-old to learn all of these life lessons now, and that’s priceless,” Cathi Jo said.

Since the mid-October injury, the community has come together to help out the McGee family. Community members tossed in more than $2,000 when the hat was passed through the crowd at a football playoff game. The money was initially going toward the purchase of a wheelchair, but instead, t bought a laptop computer. That technology has allowed Josiah to take in classes via Skyping.

“But it’s the simple things, too,” Cathi Jo said that have made Josiah’s healing process a little bit easier for her family of eight. “People made sure he got to the football games with his chair, they brought meals and treats, and even just the smiles and ‘how’s he doing’ in the grocery store mean a lot. You know, this happened five months ago and most people have moved on but we still see him every day in that chair.”

While the injury kept McGee from his senior wrestling season and track this spring, he’s determined to walk across the stage on graduation day, May 19.

“The goal is to walk across the stage,” Cathi Jo said. “He will be back on his cane or nothing – that’s the goal. And nothing’s going to stop us or get us down, because everything in life you go though can make you better or bitter, and I’m proud Josiah has chosen to be better.”

The football injury has ceased his opportunity to play at the collegiate level, Cathi Jo said.

“He won’t be able to apply for any sports scholarships because he’s behind in his schooling and getting him up to date will take a little effort.”

And Josiah has been making an effort. He met his personal goal of completing the first semester before last week’s follow-up surgery.

The excruciating pain McGee has suffered through pales in comparison to the time he’s been away from school and friends, he said.

“I get pretty lonely because I’m not able to do anything,” he said, “But it’s all still good. The school has supported me and friends come over to say ‘hi.’ It’s not what I wanted, but it’s what I got.”

Cathi Jo said she looks forward to the day her son can come and go freely on his own accord.

“I look forward to him saying, ‘I’m going out tonight.’ I haven’t heard that in five months,” she said. The McGees have been told that Josiah’s recovery from this surgery should be two to four weeks.

“We’re really pushing for two,” Cathi Jo said.

A combined benefit soup supper-dodgeball tournament for McGee is planned for this Friday.

“I don’t want this to be a celebration that he got hurt,” Cathi Jo said. “It’s a celebration that he got hurt and a community is pulling together.”

McGee is humbled by the act, initiated by fellow classmate Chase Marso. “I feel like I don’t deserve it, but it’s pretty cool that someone would do that for me,” he said.

“The one thing that he’s taking from this is that he knows what it’s like to be part of a community,” Cathi Jo says, “and that couldn’t help more in his future.”
What: Soup Supper & Dodgeball Tournament benefit for Josiah McGee
Date: Friday, March 22
Time: 5:30 to 7 p.m. – Soup supper; 6 p.m. – Dodgeball
Where: Brandon Valley High School
Cost: Freewill offering for soup supper. Up to $2,000 will be matched by Thrivent. $20 entry fee per 6-person dodgeball team
To learn more: Contact Lisa or Chase Marso at 582-6418

A benefit soup supper and dodgeball tournament for Josiah McGee is planned for this Friday. Proceeds from the event will go toward McGee's medical expenses related to a football injury he received last fall. Submitted photo

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