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Tyler is the oldest of seven siblings—3 sisters and 3 brothers to be precise. They're like the modern day Brady Bunch plus one. Of course, being the oldest comes with its share of responsibilities when you grow up in northern Wisconsin. For Tyler, that meant an honest job working at a nearby farm.

On Tuesday, February 21, 2017, Tyler was coming home from work riding a 3-wheeler when an oncoming car hit him head on throwing him clear from his ATV. It was a devastating accident and a gruesome scene. The first responders happened to be only a mile down the road when the call came through and were quick to get everything under control. After Tyler was stabilized at a nearby hospital he was airlifted to Duluth's St. Mary Hospital where things seem to get worse before they got better.

 "It was a horrible hour and a half while we drove to Duluth not knowing what we would be met with when we arrived," Tyler's mom Erica admits. "Tyler had so many injuries that included a traumatic brain injury, epidural hematoma near his brain stem, skull fractures, fractures of the spine, multiple facial fractures, a sever facial laceration, pulmonary contusions, liver laceration, spleen laceration, bladder rupture, major blood loss, a fractured femur, pelvic fractures, neck fractures, and extremely large thigh leg and chest wounds." After hearing this extensive list of injuries no one was sure of Tyler's future, including his own parents.

"In the days that followed Tyler underwent 6 surgeries, many blood transfusions, PICC lines, feeding tube placements, wound vac placements, you name it," Erica told us. "He was intubated and on a respirator for almost two weeks. Slowly though, he returned to us." 

It's hard to comprehend how someone like Tyler could survive something so violent, let along make such an incredible recovery, but here we are only 10 months after his accident. Today, Tyler has returned home and is beginning the life long process of rehabilitation. Even though he's regained most of what was temporarily lost — like eating, breathing, speaking, thinking and being alive! — he has "right leg paralysis caused by L3-5 nerves being torn away from his spinal cord," Erica tells us.

Tyler now goes to physical therapy three times a week to strengthen his leg and overall walking, but it's going to take more than therapy alone. Tyler's team wanted him to get a special leg brace called the Exosym (pictured below) that will help him regain the freedom he once enjoyed. Holton's Heroes, along with Tyler's incredible community, was able to help Tyler receive this expensive piece of equipment.  

We wish Tyler and his family the best in his recovery and have no doubt Tyler will accomplish all he sets his mind to in life. Can't get harder than this, right? 

Just wanted to thank you for what you guys do and the help you have given to Tyler.
— Erica Lehto, Tyler's Mom

We are Holton's Heroes, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to helping pediatric brain injury survivors get the tools they need to succeed in recovery.