In Spring 2009, while playing in his final high school lacrosse game, Tommy Mallon headed downfield after a ground ball at full speed and collided with a player from the opposing team who was also going for the ball.
Initially, the “hit” did not appear to be anything out of the ordinary, but Tommy did not immediately get up off the field. He was experiencing slight numbness at the back of his head, but his impulse was to “shake it off” and get back into the game. Fortunately, his teammate encouraged him to stay down while he called for help from the sidelines. Riki Kirchhoff, an on site Certified Athletic Trainer, did not permit Tommy to get up, despite his request to do so. Tommy was spine-boarded and taken by ambulance to a nearby trauma hospital.
He was told that his neck was fractured and that one of his vertebral arteries had been dissected, which had allowed blood to leak out of the artery and caused a dangerous clot to form. He was lucky to be alive, but he was at serious risk of grave consequences from his injury. He was transferred to the ICU and subsequently underwent months of challenging treatments and therapies.
Although Tommy will never play contact sports again, the actions of his teammate and the certified athletic trainer made the difference between life and death during the final minutes of his high school lacrosse career. This experience inspired Tommy and his mother, Beth Mallon, to establish Advocates for Injured Athletes (A4IA).
Advocates for Injured Athletes (A4IA) is a nonprofit 501(C)(3) charitable organization. The mission is to promote sports safety and to provide essential support, education and resources to help keep student athletes safe.