Alta wide receiver/senior defensive back Jalen Sutton suffered a spinal cord injury during the Hawks’ high school football game in Rexburg, Idaho, on Friday, Aug. 25, 2022. (Cynthia Meier via from GoFundMe)
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SANDY — An Alta football player is recovering from a brutal spinal cord injury he sustained before the Hawks’ 16-15 victory over Sandpoint, Idaho last week in Rexburg, Idaho.
Jalen Sutton, 17, suffered the injury during a game on Friday, according to a GoFundMe* set up by his aunt, Cynthia Meier, on Monday. After being taken to the hospital, Sutton was diagnosed with a cervical spine injury involving the C4 and C5 vertebrae in his neck, his aunt said. Stansbury coach Eric Alder told KSL.com the injury occurred during the Hawks’ junior varsity game against Stansbury last Thursday.
Sutton was sent to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, where doctors performed surgery to relieve pressure on his spinal cord. The surgery initially caused Sutton to lose “feeling and function in her arms and everything below the chest area,” Meier said, but three days later she regained feeling in her abdomen, hands and feet, and some movement. in the right arm. she said.
The senior wide receiver and defensive back is an only child and just three weeks shy of his 18th birthday, his aunt said.
“The outpouring of support our family has received has helped us stay strong during this traumatic event,” Meier wrote. “This includes our family, friends, neighbors, school and teammates, school staff, as well as your co-workers. Thank you for your continued prayers.”
Donations to the GoFundMe will go towards covering Sutton’s medical bills “and the long road to rehabilitation,” Meier said. The campaign had raised more than $23,000 by Monday afternoon.
“Jalen is a great young man,” Alta director Ken Rowley told KSL.com. “He is very respectful to everyone around him and works hard to live up to the expectations placed on him. He has shown and continues to show toughness, grit and determination in everything he does.”
Alta head coach Alema Te’o told the Deseret News the Hawks dedicated their victory in Sandpoint, Idaho, on Saturday to Sutton.
“Everyone is committed to trying to find ways to help him in any way possible, whether it’s financially or morally,” Te’o said. “Our kids are 100% behind him and his family. We all want the same thing that he has a positive recovery and that he can get up and do the normal things that he’s been doing his whole life.”
Alta (2-1) plays next at Maple Mountain at 7 pm MDT on Friday. The Hawks’ next home game is Friday, September 30 against Lehi.
*KSL.com does not guarantee that the money deposited in the account will be applied to the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.
Correction: This story has been updated to reveal that Sutton’s injuries originally occurred during Alta’s junior-varsity game against Stansbury last Thursday.