The number 13 has played a role in student Brady Tanguay's life for as long as he can remember.
His lucky number is 13. He proudly wears the number 13 on his baseball and football jerseys. But Brady wasn't wearing lucky 13 when he suffered a hit during a football tournament in Saline on July 21, which landed him in the hospital for 13 days.
"He hit me in the stomach with his helmet," Brady said.
At first Brady said he felt fine. He finished the tournament and played the last four innings of a baseball game for his travel team the Trenton Travelers. After the game Brady and his father, Rick Tanguay, began thinking about something the trainer at Saline, Jamie Corl, said as Brady lay on the field—if he begins vomiting, rush him to the hospital immediately.
Brady began vomiting violently and soon found himself at . His doctor told him if not for his young age, he would be having surgery to try to fix a baseball-size hematoma on his duodenum, an area near the stomach, and pancreatitis, which he suffered as a result of the hit.
"The pain made childbirth look like a walk in the park," Brady's mother, Nikki Tanguay, said in reference to the amount of pain her son was in at the hospital.
While other Trenton High School football players were gearing up for the first practice of the season, the 15-year-old soon-to-be sophomore was being fed intravenously and relying heavily on morphine to help quell, often unsuccessfully, extreme pain that kept him awake at night.
"I was screaming (in pain) all night," Brady said.
Brady spent five days in the intensive care unit and an additional eight days slowly recovering before being released from Southshore.
During his stay at the hospital Brady's parents never left his side. His father was on vacation from his job as a Trenton police officer and his mother took a break from her photography business to focus on him.
"It's traumatizing when you see your child in severe pain and there's nothing you can do to take it away," Nikki said. "And as a mother that's what you want to do. You want to take the pain away. You want to make him better, and because there was nothing we could do to make him better we could only love him and pray."
Nikki for her son and, as of 2:30 p.m. Thursday, the site had more than 1,960 "likes." Soon the Tanguay's began receiving cards, gifts, emails and comments from friends, family and strangers across the U.S. as far away as California.
The Tanguay's received overwhelming support from the Trenton community, as well. Varsity football coach Bob Czarneki's wife cleaned their house while Brady was in the hospital.
Brady is in the process of making a full recovery, though he remains on a liquid diet. He returned home to decorations hung by neighbors and friends painting the house yellow and blue with streamers and a large sign that read, "Welcome Home Brady!"
In retrospect, Brady said the hit that put him to the hospital wasn't what he would have expected at a 7-on-7 football clinic, where athletes wear helmets and not pads to work on basic skills that could later be applied in a game.
Saline's football clinic differs from other schools', including Trenton's, because teams have the ability to score points. Saline Public Schools calls it a tournament and not a clinic.
Steve Laatsch, district spokesperson for Saline Public Schools, said many schools hold various types of 7-on-7 clinics and Saline's tournament was designed to simulate the feel of a game setting.
Laatsch said the Saline athletic director, Rob White, called the hit an accidental collision that was not intentional. He added Saline football head coach Joe Palka does not teach his players to be overly aggressive.
"They teach things like proper tackling procedures. (Joe) Palka doesn’t teach things like 'Let's go out and knock a student out,'" Laatsch said.
Rick Tanguay told Trenton Patch Thursday that his family, including Brady, had not heard from anyone affiliated with Saline Public Schools since the injury took place, even after sending several emails to administrators.
Rick and Nikki Tanguay wished to thank the community, friends and strangers who helped them in their time of need. They said they owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Allan Lamb and other medical personnel at Southshore who often spent their off hours by Brady's bedside wishing him a speedy recovery and comforting them.