Riley Shadle: Unbroken

Riley Shadle: Unbroken
The Shadle Family
The Shadle Family
Riley Shadle during physical therapy
Riley Shadle during physical therapy
Letters and pictures sent to Riley during his recovery
Letters and pictures sent to Riley during his recovery
Riley Shadle smiling during physical therapy
Riley Shadle smiling during physical therapy

ENGLEWOOD, CO (KFDA) - UPDATE: Riley Shadle's trach tube was removed, meaning he can now breathe on his own. His family shared this update on May 4, 2017, nearly a year and a half after he was severely injured during a Clarendon High School football game.

Original Story:

Following a devastating football injury in October, a Clarendon High School football player is finally back home.

On Oct. 9, 2015, 17-year-old wide receiver Riley Shadle was tackled at just the wrong angle, leaving him lying on the field, unable to move.

"I just told them to tell the team to pray for me," said Riley, looking back at when the injury happened.

He was airlifted to a hospital in Lubbock where he underwent several surgeries after dislocating and fracturing two vertebrae.

Two weeks later, the Shadle family relocated to Colorado so Riley could seek treatment at Craig Hospital, a rehabilitation center just outside of Denver.

"I think throughout the whole thing he has been the strongest of us all," said Linde Shadle, Riley's mother.

Craig is where Riley started his journey to recovery, and where NewsChannel 10 paid a visit to meet the Shadle family.

"Every day you go into Riley's room and he's got a smile on his face," said Joe Fangman, a physical therapist who worked with Riley for his entire stay at Craig. "That's what makes a difference for him in rehab. No matter what I've asked him to do, whatever the occupational therapists have asked him to do, he's there every day ready for therapy and does it with every effort he can give."

Riley spent more than three months in daily physical and occupational therapy. He is having to learn how to move on his own all over again.

"It's frustrating," said Riley. "But with everyone here supporting me and everyone at home and the community, it's a lot easier. I'm just putting my faith in God.

The Shadle family has received prayers and support from all around the country, even the world.

"People that do know him, they love him and they know he's going to be okay," said Jentry Shadle, Riley's older sister. "I think that because of who he is, his character really reaches a lot of people."

Riley played several sports for Clarendon, and Jentry said golf is probably his favorite. He's also student council president and a star student.

The Clarendon community just recently raised $45,000 for the family, and even more people are sending letters, pictures and words of encouragement.

"'Why me?' has crossed everyone's mind in this room," said Riley. "I've just felt like and been told by others that they believe and I believe that I'm gonna be used for something. Something for God's glorification."

Even the smallest sign of improvement is a major victory for the Shadle family.

"It was my dad and me in here one night and we said, 'Riley move your toes,'" said Jentry. "He did it and we were going crazy."

He's now able to move his fingers and toes and can breathe for hours on his own without the help of a ventilator.

"Miracle after miracle things started happening through surgeries," said Che Shadle, Riley's father. "The doctors couldn't explain it. They didn't know why things were working out the way that it did and as well as they did."

The family's unshaken faith has kept them optimistic through all the ups and downs of Riley's recovery.

"It's brought us a lot closer, our extended family, too," said Linde. "I know it's brought a lot of people closer to the Lord. Even though we've all had strong faith from the beginning, it's united us all together."

Riley's journey is far from over.

But he has one clear goal: complete and total healing.

And he won't stop working at it until he can walk again.

"You just have to keep fighting," said Riley. "There's not much more to do. Have faith and keep fighting."

The Shadles have been back in Clarendon for a week now, and Riley is continuing his daily therapy from home.

A benefit night is taking place Monday, Feb. 22, to help the Shadles with Riley's medical costs.

It will be held at Blue Sky in Amarillo at I-40 and Western.

From 5 p.m. to close, the restaurant is giving 20% of profits to the Shadles.

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