June 9, 2011
|Dirk Knudsen; Washingtonpreps.com|
|Randy Newman with his son Matthew Celebrate life at a Seahawks Game 1 1/2 years after Newman nearly lost his life|
This week two very special young men will graduate from their respective High Schools in Washington State. Albeit both of them are late in doing so and not the same young men that they were when they started out. Thye are much stronger then anyone could have ever dreamed. It will be with a full heart that those paying attention will witness Zackery Lystedt and Matthew Newman cross the podium to receive their diploma tomorrow.
For Lystedt he will graduate after 5 grueling years of dealing with the damage left in the wake of a severe brain injury he received as a youth football player in the Tahoma school district. But he will make it and if all goes as planned he will rise from his wheel chair and walk far enough to pick up his diploma. Something many said he would never ever do.
His football injury which was life threatening and has required non stop treatment led to the Lystedt Law. It became the first concussion reform and education bill in the Nation when it passed in the state of Washington in 2009. The law keeps athletes high school age and younger from returning to the playing field without a doctor's authorization when a concussion is suspected. It also requires that coaches get educated about the dangers of concussion.
Zackery and his family have become a catalyst for concussion reform and have championed the cause nationwide on talk shows, with congressmen, and with the NFL too.
|Zack Lystedt has beaten all the odds and in many ways helped to change youth sports forever|
East of the Cascade Mountains at about the same time another ceremony will take place. Highland High School's fallen QB Matthew Newman of Cowiche, Washington will cross the stage and recieve his shingle too.
His story also rose to national prominence as he went down in double overtime game after taking a blow under the Friday Night Light's. It happened only 3 months from the day that the Lystedt Law went into effect. Poignantly, just like Lystedt, Newman also fell victim to Second Impact Syndrome; a condition that comes from receiving a second concussive blow while playing with a unresolved concussion.
Both boys had to endure what is known as a craniectomy; a nice way of saying their skulls had to be removed to save their lives. The injury is almost always fatal and most often hits football players under the age of 19.
Both boys fought through unbearable suffering and medical procedures spanning months and years and this event of graduation, while fairly basic for most kids, is a straight up miracle for the two of them.
Now the story does not end there. If you have been paying attention then you might remember one more name. Andrew "Drew" Swank.
Drew was the small town all American boy from the Spokane region who was critically injured on the football field only one week after Newman was injured. He too suffered from a Second Impact Injury and was playing hurt. Swank actually received his first concussion the very same night that Matthew Newman went down and was taken to the Trauma Center where he lay fighting for his life. But unlike Matthew he was able to get home and fight through headaches and pain for a few days.
|Dirk Knudsen; Washingtonpreps.com|
|Andrew "Drew" Swank will not graduate as planned loosing the deadly battle that Lystedt and Newman won. He is missed so very much|
But the next Friday on the field at Washtucna, Washington Drew went down again and in a story to painful to recount right here he came to a tragic end. Unlike Zackery Lystedt and Matthew Newman, who beat Second Impact Syndrome's deadly grasp, Drew lost his battle.
He died in Spokane, Washington on Sunday September 20th, 2009. We lost a young man that night that surely would have made a difference in the world. A kid who had smiles and roses and a warm hug for all he knew. A boy who would have been a great graduate on Friday too.
But that will never happen. Despite that fact we know he will never be forgotten.
So for all of you heading out to the graduation of a friend or a loved one hold a special place in your heart for these three special boys. Celebrate with your graduate and your loved ones like there is no tomorrow and hold on to what is dear.
And if your lucky enough to be at Tahoma or Highland High School Friday Night seek out Zack or Matthew and give them an extra special congratulations. Because what they have done to make it to that podium is something most of us could never ever appreciate. WashingtonPreps.com wishes Zackery Lystedt, Matthew Newman, and all our graduates congratulations and best wishes for a safe event and a brighter tomorrow.
To Help spread the word about concussion dangers and get involved with saving the game of football join forces with one of our great organizations: