WEST SALEM, Ohio-- The community is rallying around a high school football player who suffered a stroke following a violent collision on the football field last Friday.
Tyler Carlson, 14, is a freshman at Northwestern High School in Wayne County. He starts at linebacker on the varsity football team. He has displayed toughness and strength beyond his years.
"One, a tremendous athlete, I've been around high school football players for a long time and he in a lot of ways is the best I've seen, but as good as he is as an athlete, he's a better person," said principal Mike Burkholder.
But, something went wrong as Northwestern took on Smithville. Tyler suffered a concussion. The school's training staff followed protocol and had him sit out the rest of the game.
"It seemed to be pretty standard as a concussion, and I think it was at that point. The next day, he started to get some other symptoms, difficulty swallowing and some balance issues," Burkholder said.
Tyler was taken to Akron Children's Hospital, where doctors did more testing and made a startling discovery. "And at that point, they found he had somewhere after the concussion, they think because of a neck injury, he had some bleeding and then clotting. The clot broke loose and he had suffered a stroke."
The stroke has affected Tyler's balance and ability to swallow, but it has not affected his speech or motor skills. The diagnosis has stunned his classmates and everyone else in the small community of West Salem.
To show support for Tyler and his family, the people of West Salem and surrounding communities are organizing fundraisers and gas cards to help pay for the trips his family makes to Akron Children's Hospital every day.
In a moving tribute to the teenager and his family, students, teachers and parents joined hands for a prayer service Monday night on the football field.