LOOGOOTEE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV)– As Landon Mathies looked back on the past two months, there was one word that continued to come up.
“It’s just a miracle I guess,” he said. “I’m finally home.”
Mathies is a walking miracle, overcoming the odds to recover from a severe four-wheeler accident in late September that left him at risk of getting paralyzed.
He damaged his C-1 through C-6 vertebrae, and also suffered fractures in both his arms. He had surgery done in Evansville, and during it, his parents were told he had a 2% chance to walk again.
That didn’t phase Mathies. As he arrived at a hospital in Cincinnati to undergo his recovery, he set his goal from the first day.
“I told my physical therapist that I’m not leaving until I can walk out of here, so that’s what I put my mind to, and here I am,” he said.
He said it wouldn’t have been possible without the support from his family, all the medical staff he worked with, and the Loogootee community, who organized several events to show their support.
One of the first was a prayer vigil held at the baseball field. Mathies, currently a sophomore, played on varsity freshman year. Assistant coach Ben Fair, who organized the event, said it exceeded expectations.
“We quickly realized we needed to rally the community, to get together, and do a prayer service for Landon,” he said. “The gathering we experienced that Sunday night is a testament to how special this place is. I don’t know a number for how many people showed up at the baseball field that night, but it was pretty spectacular.”
Other events included a “country cruise” ride, several fundraisers and even a few visits at the hospital in Cincinnati from coaches and classmates. Fair said it was a small thing those in the community could do to show support as Mathies recovered.
“Just because Landon was a few hours away, he was always at the forefront of the community’s thoughts,” he said.
Mathies said it took about a month for him to start standing again, and things progressed from there. On Nov. 18th, he did exactly what he said he would– walking out of the hospital he entered less than two months before.
“[It was] probably the best feeling in the world,” he said. “There’s no better feeling than walking out of a hospital when they say you won’t ever walk again.”
On November 23rd, the day before Thanksgiving, he finally returned to Loogootee. Mathies had a police escort– and hundreds lining the streets waiting for him.
“They did a parade when I got home. They took me through the town, everyone was standing out on the square and everything, it’s just unbelievable,” he said.
Fair said it was a day he would remember forever.
“I get cold chills now just thinking about it,” he said. “We got to express our joy and happiness that he’s home. That was a day I think a lot of people around here won’t soon forget.”
Mathies still has a long road ahead of him. He said he’s still doing therapy sessions five days a week, and that doctors have told him the first year is critical for the recovery period.
He has several things he’s still hoping to do.
“I got a handful of goals. Want to get back on the baseball field, want to get back on the farm and help out my dad and his brother, want to get back on a four-wheeler one day, just do normal stuff,” he said.
Fair said he wouldn’t bet against the 16-year-old.
“There’s one thing I know in the short time I’ve known Landon,” he said. “He’s up for a challenge. He’s going to take that head on and he’s not going to be fearful of it.”
And as Mathies’ continues to get better– he’ll continue to be an inspiration to more and more people.
“His story is just now being written,” Fair said. “He’s going to be able to touch a lot of people and a lot of lives for a long time because of what he’s gone through.”