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'We need a miracle:' Vigil for Karns City high school quarterback who collapsed on field draws hundreds

Vigil for Karns City high school quarterback who collapsed on field draws hundreds
Vigil for Karns City high school quarterback who collapsed on field draws hundreds 03:07

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) —  A Butler County community is rallying behind the family of a Karns City High School quarterback and senior who remains hospitalized after he was airlifted from a football game on Friday. 

Sunday night, they did so at a vigil, returning to the scene of the incident, where hundreds showed their support.

Family, friends, and even strangers from Karns City and beyond joined as one at the high school football field for 17-year-old Mason Martin as he fights for his life at UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh.

Earlier in the day, Martin's parents wrote in a post on Facebook, "The truth is we need a miracle." They said their son remains in critical condition and that they have to wait for the swelling to go down to assess the damage to his brain.

Martin's family told KDKA he suffered a significant brain bleed, along with a collapsed lung, during the third quarter of Friday night's football game against Redbank Valley. They said he was involved in a hit or tackle and continued playing defense without issue. 

Minutes later, when he came back on the field for the return kick-off, they saw Martin stumbling and collapsing. The game was cut short as first responders flew Martin to the hospital.

Pastors from local churches, members of the school district, and Martin's teammates all took part in the service, speaking from a podium displaying Martin's football jersey.

His teammates read verses from the bible, including his close friend, Tate Beighley, who also offered some encouragement to the crowd.

"Mason is a fighter, and I promise you, he will win this battle," Beighley said.

Through prayer, song, and words of optimism, they tried to uplift one another and stand strong for the Martin family.

Pete Sapp is the pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in Brady's Bend.

"We need a miracle," Sapp said, referencing the social media post shared by Martin's parents.

He reflected on the horrific night that many in attendance saw themselves.

"The trauma that was witnessed by so many on Friday night was a bomb that went off in the middle of the Martins' lives," Sapp said.

The incident piles onto the challenges the family is already facing as Martin's mom is battling stage four breast cancer.

"The Martins have had more than their fair share of brokenness," Sapp said.

However, through it all, close friends said the Martins never show any weakness and are always showing up and giving back to the community.

Karns City Senior High Principal Mike Stimac, who has known the Martins nearly his entire life, shared his admiration for the family, holding back tears.

"I remember telling their dad that I hope my kids grow up to be just as good as their kids," Stimac said.

Superintendent Eric Ritzert calls Martin's parents pillars in Karns City, and Martin is the definition of a team player and leader.

"For somebody at his age to have that type of motivation and understanding of what he wants to do is rather impressive," Ritzhert said.

Now, the community is giving back to the Martins together, praying Mason can heal.

"I know that if we can all emulate their hope and faith, anything is possible," Stimac said.

"Mason needs our prayers. Let's not let him down," Ritzhert said.

Counselors were on hand during the vigil in case anyone needed to talk. They'll also be at school on Tuesday when students and staff return after Labor Day.

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