KUNA, Idaho — Boone Bartlome of Kuna was just 16-years-old when he was severely injured during the 2013 state football playoffs. He shattered his C4 vertebra and cracked his C5, a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed.
"2013, November 8, the first game of the state playoffs. The wide receiver went down and I was going to make a block on somebody, and I tripped up on my teammate's feet," Boone said. "Then as I was falling down, I hit my chin on my other teammate's knee and it just snapped my neck back. From that moment, it was like no movement from my neck down, couldn't move at all, couldn't turn my neck, just laying on the field, didn't have any movement, didn't know what was going on. All of a sudden all these people were around me, and from there on it was just a whirlwind of events and just crazy."
Boone was rushed to Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Boise.
"It was a lot coming at me pretty quick. They made you as comfortable and as confident in the situation as they could," he said. "They took really good care of me, all the nurses and doctors."
It was a critical month of recovery for Boone, and for his family. His older sister Bailey Jo Bartlome was there, too.
"From that first moment that they wheeled him into the trauma bay, they were incredible with him our family. I'll never forget, and the nurses in the ICU that took care of every little possible thing that we never knew we were going to need," she said.
"They handled everything. I remember feeling like they were part of our family and they would have done anything for us," Bailey Jo said. "I think in those three weeks we were there, I was like I'm going to be a nurse, that's what I'm going to do. I took off from there."
While Boone was getting stronger, Bailey Jo went to nursing school at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls. When she graduated, she applied at Saint Alphonsus, where it all began, with her fingers crossed.
"I walked into the interview and they asked me why I wanted to work here and of course this personal story is pretty much my reason, and I didn't even get to my car before they called me and asked me if I'd be willing to accept a position here," she said. "And I was ecstatic, I was like 'yes, of course, I will!'"
Boone was thrilled to hear his sister's news.
"It's awesome that she decided through my accident that's what she decided to do. She saw the care that I was given and decided that's what she wanted to do for a living," he said. "I couldn't be more proud of her for accomplishing that goal and being here doing what she set her mind to, and it's pretty awesome."
Bailey Jo has been a nurse at St. Alphonsus for a year now. She loves what she does, and who she works with. Boone is never far from her thoughts.
"I come across a lot of nurses that one, remember his story," she said. "Also some of the doctors that took care of him. We've had a few conversations about Boone. They are just like, 'How's Boone?'"
She says her little brother will always be her hero.
"We've all had our days where we have said this is not fair, this is not right. But he has continued to push through every bit of adversity that has ever been put in front of him," Bailey Jo said.
Boone is finishing up his degree at Boise State University, then he plans to go into finance. He's also working to get stronger and get more mobility. He says he's excited for what the future holds for him.
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