Hawaii Teen Makes Miraculous Comeback in Track after Near-Death Experience on Football Field
Reign Tabandera-Martinez, a courageous teenager from Kealakehe High School, has defied the odds and returned to the sports field, this time as a track and field athlete.
Just months ago, Reign was fighting for his life and relearning how to walk after a devastating incident during a football game.
Last August, while playing a football game at Kapolei, Reign suffered a seizure on the field.
His mother, Tiffany, who happens to be an ICU nurse, quickly recognized the signs of a concussion and brain swelling.
Without hesitation, she rushed Reign to the hospital, where he underwent several surgeries to remove and replace parts of his skull.
Following the surgeries, Reign embarked on an arduous journey of physical therapy.
“The most difficult part was not knowing what to expect upon my recovery,” shared Reign Tabandera-Martinez, reflecting on his challenging road to recovery.
“I was unsure of how people would perceive me or how my brain would function after the injury.”
Despite being cleared by his doctor less than a month before the track and field season began, Reign was determined to compete for Kealakehe.
He participated in events such as the long jump, 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, and the grueling 400-meter dash.
To everyone’s astonishment, Reign performed exceptionally well.
“That was probably one of my biggest accomplishments so far,” Reign remarked with pride.
“I joined the team not expecting much, but I ended up doing better than I anticipated.
I would say I did decently this year.”
While football-related concussions affect around 50,000 players annually in America, a neurologist reassured Reign that he shouldn’t be burdened with lifelong repercussions.
Kore Liow, the chair of Hawaii Pacific Neuroscience, expressed optimism about Reign’s outlook due to the prompt care he received and the precautions taken to prevent further injuries.
The key, according to Dr.
Liow, lies in avoiding repeated injuries.
“I am 100-percent grateful to be alive,” Reign emphasized, acknowledging the gravity of his situation.
“Knowing that many others in my position didn’t survive, I feel that surviving must mean something to God.”
Reign’s unwavering determination now sets his sights on the state championships next year, where he hopes to stand atop the podium as the ultimate victor.
His miraculous recovery and triumphant return to athletics serve as a testament to his strength and resilience.
Reign’s story serves as an inspiration to athletes and individuals facing adversity, reminding them that with unwavering determination and the right support, incredible comebacks are possible.
Sam Spangler reporting for KHON2 News, working for Hawaii.