SALT LAKE CITY — Kearns High football coach Matt Rickards recently had some heartbreaking news to share about one of the school's most talented and beloved student-athletes.
Senior Audrick Afatasi, an all-region linebacker, team captain and the school's Homecoming King, was paralyzed after suffering what Rickards described as "a severe neck injury" at a trampoline park.
"Right now he doesn’t have feeling from the waist down," Rickards wrote on Twitter about the teenager who's called Stak by friends and family. "He is in good spirits and is positive, but can use the positive thoughts and prayers. I know Audrick will come out of it stronger than ever. #stakstrong #8Afatasi"
Afatasi is still being treated for his injuries at the Intermountain Medical Center in Murray after suffering the injury this past weekend. He was hurt while attempting to land a double flip and then landing on his back, KUTV reported.
"It didn’t look like it was that bad," Isaiah Afatasi, his younger brother, told 2News. "He flipped over on his stomach and he couldn’t move. I’ve never seen him hurt that much before."
Afatasi's family and community are rallying around him, and a GoFundMe support page was created to raise money to help pay for his medical bills.
"We’re just sticking together, banding together with lot of prayer," Afatasi’s father, Skee, told KSL Sports. "We’re remaining hopeful that he he’s going to pull through this. ... Our family’s real strong, we’re getting a lot of help from the community."
Friends have posted messages of support online, including this one from Lacee Mapu: "#StakStrong Audrick is one of the TOUGHEST kids i know!!! You got this!!! We all behind you!!! (heart emojis) #KTownLoyal"
The fundraising campaign had earned $8,328 as of Tuesday afternoon, less than 24 hours after being created by family friend Ryan Stipanovich.2 comments on this story
"Everyone that has met Audrick and his family know what they mean to their community. The show of support has been amazing already," Stipanovich wrote. "This is the beginning of a long battle and as a community if we can help we will!! #KTown #STAKSTRONG"
Justice Afatasi shared a photo of Stak in the hospital with a message of gratitude.
"Thank u guys sm for all your love and support for my brother!" Justice wrote. "He appreciates it so much! also thanks to all those who have visited him in the hospital. Means so much to him and also our family (heart emoji) #StakStrong"