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ELDON - The people of Eldon are rallying around a family whose son suffered a spinal injury during football practice on Wednesday.

Junior Hunter Bushnell went to practice as usual Wednesday and found himself in emergency surgery later that night, paralyzed from the chest down. Doctors say it’s too early to tell what the permanent damage is.

Bushnell's mother said on Friday, “They were finally able to get his pain under control for the moment, so he is getting some much needed rest.”

This week is Homecoming at Eldon High School, and the students, faculty and staff are using it as a chance to support Bushnell and his family. Friday afternoon during the pep rally, students held a sign that read, “We got you, Hunter!” Assistant Principal and Athletic Director Steve Henderson said this was because “When Hunter went into surgery he said ‘We got this.’”

Before Friday night's game, Henderson will give a reading and hold a moment of silence for Bushnell. He will also lead a release of green balloons in honor of spinal cord injury awareness.

Bushnell has been a member of the football team since his freshman year as the manager. This year is his first season on the field as #13, where he’s been playing running back and outside linebacker. 

Head Football Coach Shannon Jolley said his job went way beyond football this week, adding his focus was the “football family.”

“I think if you look around today and you see at the game tonight you understand the impact that Hunter had on our student body. I don't know if there's anybody that doesn't like Hunter and he's just-he always has such a tremendous attitude, his work ethic is outstanding, he's in a variety of school activities.” Bushnell said, “So even in the message tonight, the outpour of attention and people reaching out I think that speaks to Hunter's character and his involvement in this community and school.”

Principal Kris Harwood at Eldon High School raved about Bushnell.

“He’s such a good kid, an honors student, in the band and on the football team.”

Community members made a T-shirt to help raise money for the Bushnell family, and the school is collecting donations for the family at Friday's game. 

An account was set up and went live Friday at Central Bank for community members to donate to the family. Anyone can go to a Central Bank location and donate to the “Benefit for Hunter Bushnell” account.

South Elementary School in Eldon even gave up their recess to make formations: the number sign, a heart and the number 13. They posted photos of the formations on Facebook in support of Bushnell.

Superintendent of Eldon School District Matt Davis spoke about the community, “They are fantastic. The amount of people giving donations. And even our surrounding schools in the area that have showed support.”

Davis said, “It’s just amazing to see all the compassion in this town when we really need it.”

Jolley said beyond the monetary donations, “The most important thing is, Hunter just needs everybody’s prayers.”

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