A year after Bloomington teen paralyzed, community unites to rebuild the family home
A crowded Southwood Park in Bloomington on Sunday evening was the culmination of a fundraiser to rebuild, from the ground up, the home belonging to the family of the Bloomington Jefferson High School student who was paralyzed on the football field last fall.
Sept. 2 will mark a year since a routine tackle gone wrong left 15 — now 16-year-old — Ethan Glynn paralyzed from the shoulders down. It was his first game as a freshman.
“Almost exactly a year, yeah,” Ethan said in his first interview with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS on Sunday.
Asked if the date has been on his mind, he said, “Not really. I mean, September 2, now, is just my brother’s first football game I get to go to. That’s kind of the date I’ve got in mind, not the date I got injured.”
His older brother, Parker Durkin, 18, just began his college freshman year and will be playing football for St. John’s University near St. Cloud. Durkin made the trip home for the weekend.
“It’s almost fitting that we’ll be able to watch his brother play football. It’s a new beginning for September 2,” Ethan’s dad, Corey Glynn, said.
That positive outlook has become a cornerstone of Ethan’s recovery.
“Very proud,” Corey Glynn reacted. “And a lot of it’s surprising. I don’t know if I would react the way he does at 15 or 16-years-old to something so traumatic that altered his life, and it’s going to forever, but he really looks at the future and he doesn’t dwell on it.”
“With this injury, it’s definitely been tough, but we’ve gotten a lot closer,” Durkin added. “You know, we’ve helped each other a lot more because we’ve had to, you know, and I just, I love that kid.”
“I feel like I’ve always just kind of been a positive person. Just like, keep going,” Ethan said with confidence.
It’s been a year of intensive physical therapy for the 16-year-old.
“Mainly just strengthening my arms, see if I can get more stuff back,” he added.
The progress was already evident in Ethan’s right arm. He is able to turn his forearm and hand from resting to the side, and he says he’s not stopping there.
Ethan gets around these days in a chair that he drives himself by using a straw. Varied levels of air pressure Ethan blows into the mechanism control the speed and direction.
Corey Glynn said he’s tried it out, and it’s not an easy skill to pick up.
“He’s been blows me away every day,” he said.
“They say most of your healing comes up to two years after your injury, so I can keep getting stuff back, and then technology. I’m just ready for technology,” Ethan shared.
“There’s no limitations to what this kid can do,” Durkin added.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS met up with the family right outside what used to be Ethan and Durkin’s childhood home.
“We made the tough decision to tear down the old house,” Corey Glynn explained. “It was a 50s Rambler and it would have been a lot to adopt it to be accessible.”
The new house, which will be built right where the old one was demolished, will have several voice-activated features, so Ethan can easily get around, close the shades, even watch TV with little to no help, Corey Glynn explained.
“Bauer Design Build have been instrumental. There is no thank you big enough for what they’re what they’re doing,” he added. “And outside of Bauer, there are 40 other companies that have stepped up in some shape or form to help us with labor, help us with materials help us with design, anything that kind of makes this dream come true.”
Bauer came up with the idea for the Sunday evening event, Corey Glynn said. All those who have donated money, time or resources along the family’s journey were invited to the park for a cookout and to sign sheets of plywood with a message. That will become a part of the bones of the Glynn’s new home.
“The community support is crazy and the house is even crazier,” Ethan said.
“It’s hard to say ‘thank you’ when it’s a lot of people coming at you at once. You can’t say ‘thank you’ to everybody,” Durkin added. “So here’s my ‘thank you’ to everybody.”
The family expects to move in in the fall.