3-year-old injured in lawnmower accident reunites with "heroes" - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

3-year-old injured in lawnmower accident reunites with "heroes" who saved him

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After weeks in the hospital, a Cedar Falls family is reunited with the "heroes" they credit for saving their 3-year-old son's life.

Three-year-old Tate Manahl was involved in a lawnmower accident this past August, which left him with severe injuries. 

Tate had extensive injuries. His growth plate was crushed, his legs were injured, and the organs in his abdomen were wounded. 

He was rushed to Covenant Medical Center, and later airlifted to the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, where he spent 43 days in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). 

His journey to recovery has not been easy-Tate has had more than 15 procedures. Yet, through it all, this little fighter has worn a smile that lights up the room. He's gone from being on life support to now inching closer to being able to walk again. It's a journey, his parents, Ryan and Fonda Manahl say wouldn't be possible if it weren't for the people who helped them the day of the accident. 

Last Friday, the Manahl family was able to meet the firefighters, police officers, and nurses from Covenant Medical Center who were all there for Tate. The Manahl's neighbors, who were the first to help the family, were also there.  

"We're so thankful for every one of you," said Ryan Manahl. "You're all our family now."

Each and every one became a part of Tate's Army, but so did the community. Tate's story transcended with families all across Eastern Iowa. Donations poured in to his You Caring page from nearly all over. Many wanted to help the family in any way they could, wearing #ManahlStrong in support of Tate. 

"Because you guys are the true heroes," said Manahl. "I honestly believe that each and every one of you had some role in that day. And it's just a miracle that we're here."

The first responders all shared stories of how they all happened to be at the right place at the right time. The nurses at Covenant Medical Center described how they had been right in the middle of shift change, meaning there were double the amount of nurses ready for Tate.

"They truly are the true heroes who kept him alive," said Manahl. "To even give him a chance to get down to Iowa City where those amazing surgeons took over. If it wasn't for them-this day wouldn't even have been possible for us to return home with Tate."

Tate's journey home wasn't easy. The Manahls say there were days that were sometimes longer than others.

"One of our last Iowa games that we were out there in Iowa City, he had a huge turn-around and ate a lot more food that day," said Fonda Manahl. "It was just like, I think we're to the point, where he will be able to keep stuff down. And it was just like, that was what he needed...the Iowa Wave, just all the support really."

But even on days where Tate didn't have the Wave, he had his cheek-to-cheek smile that kept him fighting. 

"His strength and his smile," said Ryan Manahl. "A lot of people talk about his smile. His smile is amazing. And that's what's helped us heal. Everything from watching him get better and heal. You could be having a bad day and just the little smile like that was incredible."

Tate was able to come back home in October, right in time for Halloween, where he could just be a 3-year-old again. 

“The only thing we've ever asked for is prayers and people have given more-meals, things to help with moving forward with bills," said Ryan Manahl. "We're so grateful. We're so thankful. Thank you to the Cedar Valley, thank you to Iowa people, we have no clue who you are. There are so many prayer groups throughout the country that have reached out and prayed for Tate and our family. And you guys are the true heroes that take time out of your day to pray for us.”

Doctors say Tate has two more procedures. His next procedure will be on November, just after Thanksgiving. The Manahls say doctors are still working on saving Tate's left leg. In the meantime, Tate is slowly gaining strength with physical therapy at Covenant Rehab. 

Most recently, Tate started going back to preschool for a couple days a week with the help of his mom.

For more about his journey, visit his You Caring page. 

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