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Drew Brees Donates Prosthetic Leg After High School QB Loses Limb to Freak Injury

We would like to share an update with you on Alex Ruiz’s journey. The following is an article from The Washington Post:

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New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees presents Alex Ruiz with a prosthetic walking leg. (Ruiz family photo)

By Jacob Bogage May 17th – Washington Post

At night, DeChon Burns sometimes lies awake thinking about that ankle and that knee and what kind of God could ravage two young men so absolutely and heal them both so wondrously.

There’s his son, lying on the 40-yard line years ago with a broken ankle that nearly shattered his chance to play college football. It was over, his son told him, as his toes somehow touched his calf. But after surgery and years of rehab, the joint healed. He’s still playing college football today.

There’s Alex Ruiz, the quarterback at Linfield Christian School in Southern California, where Burns coaches, on his back at the 35-yard line Oct. 6, 2017. His knee bent at a 90-degree angle the wrong way. He couldn’t feel his right foot.

“I’m never playing again,” Ruiz told Burns, who tried to wedge his body between Ruiz’s leg and his eye line.

“No, no, no, don’t say that,” Burns said. “We don’t know that. We’ve seen worse.”

Ruiz, a junior, kept the ball on a running play and was stacked up by defenders at the line of scrimmage. He right foot stuck in the ground as he tried to wriggle out of a tackle, and the weight on his back popped the joint out of its socket, then ruptured an artery that circulated blood to his foot.

A month later, he had the limb amputated below the knee.

And now Ruiz is again his jovial self and a big man on campus at Linfield. He’s part of the Lions’ coaching staff while he undergoes further treatment. A local car dealership donated a brand new GMC Terrain, which he learned to drive left-footed.

A pair of Division III colleges offered him financial aid packages to join the team as a student coach, if he can’t play, or suit up at quarterback, if he learns to play with a prosthesis.

And about that: The Challenged Athletes Foundation donated his walking prosthesis. Drew Brees, the quarterback Ruiz has modeled his game after for years, presented him with the new leg May 11. As for his athletic prosthesis, Brees will pick up the tab for that, he said.

“God is all over this,” Burns says now. “You see that something is meant here. This isn’t happenstance. There’s a bigger reason.”

Alex Ruiz drops back to pass during his junior season at Linfield Christian School in Temecula, Calif.

And yet Burns, who played at Southern California and was part of Steve Spurrier’s coaching staff with the Washington Redskins, cries when considering the enormity of the incident, when thinking about a 16-year-old making the decision to sever his own limb in pursuit of a normal life.

Doctors told Ruiz, if he kept the limb, that he would spend the rest of his life walking with the help of a boot and crutches. He would never be able to run or play sports again. He likely wouldn’t regain feeling beyond his knee.

The resident surgeon told him while he was playing “Call of Duty” in his hospital bed. He turned the game off, put headphones on and bawled.

“They said it was my decision,” he remembers. “The doctors weren’t going to make it for me. My parents weren’t going to make it for me. I had to decide for myself.”

A week later, his friends visited over the weekend, and he told them he had made up his mind. The leg would go.

“I decided,” he announced, “this is how I wanted to do life.”

“We sat there and cried and held hands,” he says now. “They made me realize, me without a leg, I’m still me.”

“When we spoke,” Burns said, “and he told me about his decision, he had to pull me through it, honestly. I bawled like a baby, and he just stopped me. And he said: ‘Coach, I need you to stop. It’s my decision. It’s something I want to do. I want to be able to play with my kids and run and do all that, and if I don’t get this done, I won’t. And don’t treat me differently.’ ”

Burns tries not to, but it’s hard. He has been around the game long enough to see a lot of injuries. His playing career ended in college with a neck injury. And he watched his son go through rehab and get on with his life.

The pair spoke at a community leadership breakfast recently about the ordeal. Ruiz went first and announced, unexpectedly, that if a future reconstructive knee surgery went well, he would try to play his senior season with the prosthesis.

“I had to step into the other room and gather myself,” Burns said. “I think it’s the totality — there was a limb that was removed. That changes things, whether you want to agree with it or not. That changes things. He’s 16 [now 17] years old. He won’t be able to run his feet in the sand or shower the same way or clip his toenails.”

And even though seemingly everything after the injury has gone right — the surgeries have been successful; Ruiz has formed a friendship with NFL tight end Zach Miller, who suffered a similar injury but without amputation; donations, including Brees’s, have poured in — Burns still sometimes stares into space and wonders why it all happened, and why he didn’t stop it.

“I don’t sleep well,” he said, “because I feel responsibility. It happened on my watch. I was the head coach.”

For a while, Ruiz was similarly distraught. What if he had handed the ball off? What if he had just gone down on the first hit?

“You can’t beat yourself up on it,” Burns told him. “Only him and God know how it happened on that play.”

Article Source: Washington Post

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Update: Alex Ruiz on the Road to Recovery

We recently shared the story of Alex Ruiz, an incredible young man who was traumatically injured during a high school football game. Thank you to all who donated to help support him and his family during this challenging time. They are still accepting donations should anyone want to contribute.

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We would like to share an update with you on his journey. The following is an article from The Press Enterprise.

Despite Amputation, Ex-Temecula Linfield Quarterback Hopes to Play Again

Former Linfield Christian School quarterback Alex Ruiz had a small group of people with him the day doctors amputated his right leg below the knee.

There were his parents, Michael and Shirley Ruiz, and his grandfather, Guy Miali. And then there was someone who wasn’t a relative but a person he’d grown closer to since suffering a life-changing on-field injury — football coach DeChon Burns.

“Our relationship has gone a lot deeper than coach and player,” Ruiz said. “It’s practically family.”

Ruiz, who underwent a successful surgery at Loma Linda University Medical Center on Monday, Feb. 26, hopes he’ll be seeing more of Burns this year.

He plans to return to competitive sports — including football.

“I want to play at the highest level,” Ruiz said.

Adjusting after amputation
Before his injury, Ruiz, a junior, was second in the league in passing yards and first in tackles.

On the 15th play of an Oct. 6 game against Ontario Christian High, Ruiz tried stepping over a player with the ball in his hand but was brought down by opposing players, which caused him to dislocate his right knee and tear an artery.

After undergoing surgery after the injury, Ruiz learned that hours without blood flow below his knee resulted in the loss of function in his foot. He chose partial amputation and a prosthetic leg rather than keeping his leg but walking with a limp.

In the days before the more-than-four-hour surgery, Ruiz said he thought about what it would be like if he didn’t get the amputation.

Then he looked at his limp and knew what he needed to do.

“I’m completely confident this was the right decision,” he said.

The first thing he did after waking up was remove the blankets and look at his new leg, staring at it for a while before thinking about his future.

“This is the new normal and this is the beginning of me trying to play again,” he said.

The soreness he endured was one of the most painful experiences of his life, Ruiz said, but his weeklong stay in the hospital wasn’t all bad.

Ruiz’s meal of choice — a meal from Raising Cane’s featuring three chicken fingers, French fries, Texas toast and lemonade — was brought to him everyday by friends and family.

Ruiz left the hospital Saturday, March 3, and returned to school Tuesday, March 6. The past few months have taught him a lot.

“I was very impatient before,” Ruiz said. “I wanted to make everything happen as soon as it could. This has showed me that I’m not in control of everything.”

He planned to visit a prosthetist Thursday, March 8, to pursue getting a prosthetic for daily use and another one for football.

“I need it as soon as possible,” he said.

Can he play again?
Ruiz said he wants to resume playing a variety of sports next season.

Burns said Ruiz will have the chance to compete for a spot on his football team.

Ruiz still has the support of Chicago Bears’ tight end Zach Miller, who suffered the same injury as Ruiz last year.

“He’s kinda pushing me to go for it,” Ruiz said. “I’m still pushing him to continue playing in the NFL.”

More recently, Ruiz got a call from former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. The football player-turned-minor-league baseball player told Ruiz to not let anyone treat him differently because of his injury, Ruiz said.

After graduation, Ruiz plans to attend college and study business, communications or journalism in hopes of becoming a sports analyst or TV show host such as ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

Meanwhile, an online fundraiser has been launched to help Ruiz and his family pay for the prosthetics and other costs.

If Ruiz achieves his dream and plays in a football game next season, Burns said he’ll probably “break out in tears.”

“It will probably be one of the most ecstatic days of my life — right up there with getting married and having my children,” he said.

Thank you to all who donated to help support him and his family during this challenging time. They are still accepting donations should anyone want to contribute. 

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Read the original article here online. 


Help Support Alex Ruiz on the Road to Recovery

We are sharing a special request with you all in support of an incredible young man.

Alex Ruiz was traumatically injured during a high school football game, and as a result will undergo amputation of his lower leg. Please consider sharing this story on your Facebook page and support this local family to help them offset medical expenses.

Alex is one amazing kid facing some huge challenges in the days ahead and every donation, no matter the size, will help. Please give today!

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