On November 8, 2013, Boone Bartlome was playing high school football in his hometown of Kuna, Idaho, just southwest of Boise. “In the first quarter, I was having a pretty decent game,” Boone said. He was blocking a running play when he tripped over a teammate, hit his chin on a player’s knee and fell. It didn’t hurt at all, Boone said, but when he tried to get up, he couldn’t.
Boone, a 16-year-old junior was carried off the field by paramedics and rushed to a hospital in Boise, Idaho. He had shattered his C4 vertebra and cracked his C5, resulting in a spinal cord injury and paralysis. He was unable to move his legs or arms.
At first, Boone wanted to stay in his tight-knit community in Idaho and rehabilitate near his friends and family, but his parents were interested in the care a specialty hospital could provide, and he was transferred to Craig Hospital. The relationships Boone made at Craig surprised him.
“One of the biggest shocks to me was, when I got into the therapy rooms and I saw the other people and what they were doing, that motivated me,” he said. “You become friends with these people. These people become your family.”
The physical therapists and occupational therapists pushed Boone to do everything he could do for himself, he said, giving him the tools he needed to maximize his recovery.
“I would see people doing one thing one day and the next day they’re standing up or taking steps. I’m just like, well, hey, I’ll get there.”
With hard work and the support of his friends and family, Boone regained some feeling in his feet, and when he graduated from Craig in early 2014, he was able to walk with help.
Meanwhile, the outpouring of support from his community in Kuna was just gaining momentum. The Monday following the accident, 800 people attended a rally to support Boone, and hear an update on his condition. The community helped remodel the Bartlome’s home to be wheelchair accessible. And the town organized a 5k to raise funds for his recovery.
Boone’s football coach, who said he hadn’t slept through the night since the accident, organized a town-wide celebration to welcome Boone home when he graduated from Craig the following February. Friends arranged for Boone to be reunited with his best friend – his Labrador, Zeke – upon arrival. They were holding signs and banners and released gold and black balloons, the school’s colors. The crowd chanted “Boone!” while his father helped him out of the car.
An article in the Idaho Statesman said the football team had been aiming for a state title, but now have a new purpose: supporting Bartlome and his family for as long as it takes. When he returned home, they ran an article about his warm welcome titled “Boone is Back.”
Boone’s recovery isn’t complete, but his family is encouraged by his significant progress. “I’ve learned that there’s no activity that just can’t be done,” Boone said. “Craig has taught me that if I want to do anything, I just have to find a way.”
Gary A. Maerz, M.D., M.B.A., Physician
CNS Physician Group
Gary A. Maerz, M.D., M.B.A., joined CNS in 2001. He is board certified in the specialty of physical medicine and rehabilitation, and board certified in the subspecialty of spinal cord injury medicine. He is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the University of Colorado residency program, and a licensed professional engineer. He is currently President of the CNS Medical Group. Clinical and research interests include metabolic changes after spinal cord injury, and pain and spasticity management. Dr. Maerz has a special interest in combined brain injury/spinal cord injury patients, and directs the clinical team at Craig Hospital which treats these complex patients.
Carol E. Wineinger, Inpatient Counselor
Clinical Care Management
Carol E. Wineinger, MA, LPC, joined Craig Hospital in 2006, and works with inpatients who have spinal cord injuries and/or combination brain and spinal cord injuries. Carol’s education includes a Bachelors degree in Psychology from the University of Nebraska, and a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Northern Colorado. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor for the State of Colorado, and an active member of The Academy of Spinal Cord Injury Professionals.
Becki Bushnell, Outpatient Counselor
Clinical Care Management
Becki Bushnell, M.S.W., received her B.S. degree in Social Work from Metropolitan State College of Denver in 2005 and her M.S.W. in Social Work from the University of Denver in 2008. Becki joined Craig Hospital in 2008 as a Outpatient Counselor in the Patient and Family Services Department. In 2008, Becki received her certificate in Animal Assisted Therapy and became an Interdisciplinary team member of the outpatient skin clinic.
Stephanie Laube, Physical Therapist
Kirsten Benavidez, Occupational Therapist
Maureen Stobbelaar , Occupational Therapist
The people at Craig become family.Boone, Craig Grad 2013
“When I came in I was barely moving my arms. I told myself I was going to stand up and now I’m standing up. Life is good.”