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Bloomington Jefferson freshman team plays first game since teammate's injury

Ethan Glynn, 15, remains paralyzed from the shoulders down. He has a long recovery ahead.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The Bloomington Jefferson freshman football team returned to the field Thursday for their first game since one of their players, Ethan Glynn, was paralyzed in the season opener last week.

The 15-year-old still can't move his body from the shoulders down after suffering a spinal cord and neck injury on Sept. 2. 

Before kickoff at St. Louis Park on Thursday afternoon, both teams locked arms and held a moment of silence. In the crowd, high school classmates and parents wore shirts printed with Ethan's number "8" on the back, under the words We Got You.

"That was awesome. Just awesome. For both teams. Great respect," said Al Madison, whose grandson plays on the Jefferson freshman team. "We're standing behind you. We're all for you."

In an update posted to the website CaringBridge, Ethan's parents said that Thursday had been a "busy but good day" for their son. 

"They were finally able to get his pain under control with some med adjustments last night, which coupled with the new bed made for a good night's rest," his parents wrote. "He has had visits from both OT and PT. He has excelled at using the communication board which has allowed him to take in some sports highlights, a movie & communicate with us!"

John Frein, a close family friend, said Ethan's parents have been overwhelmed by the community's support. So far, a GoFundMe has raised more than $120,000.

"They're very grateful," Frein said. "Grateful but also kind of in shock."

Frein said it's not clear how long Ethan might remain in the hospital. While the donations so far have been immensely helpful, it's also not clear how much money the family will eventually need to pay for further medical expenses and rehabilitation costs.

"It's certainly not a fast track to normalcy. Talking to family and friends, it's a matter of baby steps at this point," Frein said. "It's something that people can't stop thinking about. It's just an emotional battle."

In the meantime, the Jefferson freshman football team will finish out the 2022 schedule, with the next home game scheduled versus Apple Valley next Thursday.

"I know what Ethan would want," Frein said. "He's not going to want people to take a step back and not keep fighting in their own lives as well. The message would be, keep doing what you can do, appreciate it, don't take it for granted, and keep playing the game hard."

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