KUNA, Idaho — Boone Bartlome of Kuna was just 16-years-old when he was severely injured during the 2013 state football playoffs. It was November 8, 2013, Kuna High School was up against Bishop Kelly. Bartlome suffered a spinal cord injury on the field that left him paralyzed and left the Treasure Valley community heartbroken.
"We had a great season, one of the best seasons Kuna had in a long time, and a freak accident there at the end of the season, it ended up changing my life pretty quick," said Bartlome. "I was a wide receiver and I went in to make a block on a guy, and when I got there I tripped up on his legs, hit my chin on another teammate's leg as he was coming around the corner, and just snapped by neck back, and that paralyzed me from the neck down, just as quick as that."
Bartlome is now 24-years-old and he says he remembers it all.
"I just remember laying there on the field, and I just tried to get up one time and nothing happened and then I tried again and nothing happened again. Everybody obviously got out there to take care of me, it was flashing before my eyes. A big whirlwind for a 16-year-old."
Bartlome was rushed to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, but while he was on the way, something incredible happened on the football field that crisp fall night. Something that touches his heart to this day.
"After they got me off the field in the ambulance, both teams came out to the 50-yard line and got on their knees and prayed for me," he said. "At the end of the day, we are all out there doing what we love and when somebody gets hurt like that, you see the community come together. Even though we are dead rivals, no one wants to see that happen to a fellow athlete."
In the days and weeks after the game, word spread quickly that Bartlome's injuries were more severe than anyone could have imagined. He was paralyzed.
After a few weeks in Boise, Bartlome was sent to Craig Hospital in Denver. A hospital that specializes in spinal cord injuries. He says that's when the grueling work of recovery really began.
"Everything was relearning how to live life, basically a lot of mental stuff trying to sort through how my life is going to look after this," Bartlome told KTVB. "All of a sudden, it's not what I thought it was going to be. Figuring out that mental battlefield, plus how am I going to feed myself, how am I going to get dressed, just relearning how to live. It was a long road."
Bartlome came back to Idaho after months at Craig Hospital and started his new life. But, he will be the first to tell you, accepting what had happened to him hasn't been easy. But, a much-needed mental shift came a few years ago at the Mecca Gym in Meridian.
"The gym has been such a blessing to me. We've just been in here grinding away and making huge strides in my recovery and functionality of daily life," said Bartlome. "I'm getting back to where I'm gaining muscle, gaining function, walking on the treadmill, doing squats."
Bartlome was taken under the wing of a local doctor who introduced him to a trainer at The Mecca Gym in Meridian.
"From the day he came in here, he's had an incredible mindset," said Eric Cafferty, Bartlome's trainer.
Trainer Eric Cafferty says watching Bartlome's progress has been nothing short of powerful.
"He's gone from not being able to do normal daily tasks, to now, he's able to do darn near bench press his own body weight, which is unheard of for somebody with his injuries," said Cafferty.
For Bartlome, the biggest change has been mental. He says he is no longer harping on the past, and he's completely focused on his future. Bartlome has been sharing videos of his progress at the gym on social media. His story is now motivating people all over the country.
"For me, it's not about the attention, I can do without that. I do it because people want to keep up with me and see what I'm doing. But, I do like when people reach out and tell me that I'm inspiring them to change their lives."
Bartlome is so humble, and all about giving life 100% all of the time. He's living his motto, which is also his brand. He's 'All Try'. He's showing people they can do what he is doing, too, no matter their ability or disability. There is always room for improvement.
"All Try is a brand I started, kinda something I heard growing up rodeoing. The dads would say you gotta have try, which means you gotta give it your all, never give up. So, I took that and my injury, and put it into my own little spin called All Try."
That November night in 2013 is a part of Boone's life, but so is what is happening right now. He's ready for his next adventure!
"I'm doing great now. For a long time, I was hiding behind my personality making everything look fine, and I wasn't always doing great, but now I can tell you I am doing great. I've gotten to a place where I am completely happy, completely loving life and enjoying every day," said Bartlome. "I couldn't be happier and I love the way things are looking for me."
Boone has more big things coming his way. He will soon be called Mr. Bartlome. This Boise State graduate has recently accepted a position to teach business at Innovate Academy in Eagle. He can't wait to start.
He also plans to get back on a horse this year. That's one of his goals, and he says there's no doubt he'll do it. There's also no doubt his community will be watching and cheering him on.
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