Failed flip severs 13-year-old's spinal cord; high school raises money to help family

CLOVIS, Calif. -- Makai Lloren is a fierce competitor. The 120-pound eighth grader loves takedowns and especially pins. But, his interests are broad. He loves the outdoors, water, adventures and having fun. He was having a great time last week when his life changed forever.

"He tried to do a double front flip and ended up landing on his neck and breaking his neck. He had injuries to his C6 and C7 vertebrae," said Makai's brother, DJ.

The 13-year-old was rushed into emergency surgery that night to try to minimize the damage. So far he is able to move his arms. But spinal cord injuries often have devastating effects, Makai is currently paralyzed from the waist down.

"He understands it but the magnitude of it, I think, is a little bit difficult for him to comprehend because he's so young so, he just has to take it one step at a time," DJ Lloren said.

The trampoline arena just opened days ago and it's the largest of its kind in the area.

Defy Clovis issued a statement saying in part, "We look into every incident that happens at our parks with the utmost care for those involved. We are fully investigating this issue and will cooperate fully with all involved parties."

Makai's brother, also a wrestler now at Fresno State, says it's been a painful time full of adjustments. The Lloren family is now working to remodel their home to accommodate a wheelchair.

But despite his grueling recovery process Makai's spirit is shining through. His smile is still wide and bright, even from his hospital bed.
"Some of his idols, Cal Day, Max Holloway, Dana White even have sent videos saying we love you, we're praying for you," said DJ.

James Gambrell is the athletic director at the Buchanan High School.

"Makai is an energetic, fun loving, extremely athletic young man. Just involved in everything. I've known him since he's a little boy. He's always around every wrestling, Buchanan event with the family and a fantastic young man," Gambrell said.

Makai remains in Intensive Care at Community Regional Medical Center, But at Tuesday night's Battle of the Bears wrestling match, Buchanan High School raised money to help the Lloren family through this difficult time.

Although Makai's long term prognosis is uncertain, one thing is certain: an entire community is supporting him and his family is feeling the love.

"Just pray that you know, miracles do happen all the time. You hope for him to be one of them," DJ said.

Support pours in from around country
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Teen with severed spine draws in support from across the country

13-year-old Makai Lloren is used to cheers while securing a "W" on the wrestling mat.

Now sidelined by injury, the outpouring of support for the teen knows no bounds.
"We have a strong family and the community has been humbling with what they've been doing for us," said Durbin Lloren, Makai's father.

The Battle of the Bears drew a packed house to Buchanan High School where opposing team fans all sported the same shirt. Proceeds from the door and t-shirt sales all going to the Lloren family.

Last week, the teen attempted a double front flip at a trampoline park when his life changed forever.

"You have a child that's motionless, that's just scared asking questions. I didn't know how our lives were about to change," the teen's father said.

Durbin says the roller coaster of emotions seems endless as they learn how to prepare for their son's future.

RELATED: Failed flip severs 13-year-old's spinal cord; Buchanan HS raises money to help family

Currently the teen is paralyzed from the waist down.

"He has use of his arms now but he has no use of his hands," Durbin said.

Though praying for a miracle, the family is already working to make their home wheelchair accessible.

In addition to his wrestling and football background, the 13-year-old is known for his fun loving and outgoing spirit.

The support goes beyond the Valley as letters have come in from across the country.
Even some of the teens wrestling idols have reached out.

"The UFC president left him a message he's going to fly him and our family out there for a big fight," Lloren said.

Friends and teammates are still coming up with ways to fund raise for the family. They've set up crowd funding sites and have even made t-shirts to sell.

Shirts will also be sold at Senior Night Dual against Clovis East on Wednesday, Jan. 23.

You can also contact the Buchanan Wrestling Facebook page. Alta Sierra and other elementary schools will have pre-order forms available.
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