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#LannersStrong | Royalton community rallies around one of their own

Nick Lanners suffered a severe fracture of his C5 vertebrae after being rear-ended at a stoplight. Now, the community is coming together to support Lanners.

ROYALTON, Minn. — The city of Royalton is experiencing a unique football season this fall.

“Nick's not here right now," said Royalton head coach Jamie Morford. "He’ll be watching, we know he’ll be watching, but it’s different."

“He’s been here for a long time and it’s just strange not having a guy like Lanners around,” said Royalton senior QB Drew Yourczek.

Former Royalton standout quarterback Nick Lanners is Royalton royalty. He starred for the Royals as a player, and after college, decided to join Jamie Morford’s staff at Royalton as an assistant coach in 2011. Lanners and his wife Heather live near the area with their two kids, Grayson and Emery.

“I feel like the kids look up to him. It’s a way for him to give back to the community with something he’s passionate about,” said Nick’s wife, Heather.

“He’s like a big brother to the kids,” said Morford.

This year, however, will be different.

Lanners was driving to a team workout on July 13, when his car was rear ended at a stoplight. First responders immediately called Heather to let her know Nick was involved in a serious accident and would be airlifted to St. Cloud.

“It’s a phone call I’ll never forget,” said Heather.

The longtime Royals assistant suffered a severe fracture of his C5 vertebrae in the crash. As of today, Nick still can’t move anything from his chest down. He’s also dealt with blood clots and pneumonia since the accident in July.

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“I’m thankful that he didn’t have a brain injury. I’m thankful that my kids didn’t lose their Dad," Heather said. "A lot of anger goes through your mind, because you’ll never know why it happened."

Doctors aren’t sure if Nick will ever be able to walk again.

“I knew there was the chance that he could never walk again, and to have to explain that to your kids, it feels impossible,” said Heather.

With Nick in the hospital, and a long road to recovery ahead, the Royalton community has stepped up to help out one of their own.

“Nick is Royalton football. He’s a guy that came back and given back so much, not just to the football program, but this entire community,” said Morford.

The town quickly set up a GoFundMe for the family, with the initial goal being $11,000 in honor of Nick’s former number from his playing days. Word spread quickly, and that initial goal has been shattered.

“If there’s anyone that’s going to overcome this, it’s Nick,” said Morford.

The town also came together to support the Lanners family during the team’s home opener on Thursday, Sept. 1. Using the hashtag #LannersStrong, the community held a raffle to benefit medical expenses for the family. Wristbands and t-shirts donning #LannersStrong were also sold during the team’s season-opening win over Minnewaska.

“It’s hard to keep the positivity and strength, but with having so much community support, it just makes it so much easier,” said Heather.

With a long road to recovery still ahead of them, the Lanners family knows they don’t walk that path alone, thanks to the community’s support.

“It’s hard to put into words how grateful we are. It’s like we are hurting, but the whole community is hurting right alongside us."

A CaringBridge site has also been set up to help the Lanners family. To donate, click here.

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