Ball player wants back in the game — even though it’s football

baseball star and eager healer Meyer TarrAvid baseball player Meyer Tarr, 12, of Newton, has a love for the game – baseball, football or any sport, really. But a horrible injury sidelined him during the championship game in July.

The injury yielded at least one good experience. Meyer and his family will see Saturday’s Fighting Illini football game with plenty of perks. Carle’s Child Life Services again is partnering with Special Spectators and the U of I to provide a special experience, complete with kid-focused tailgating and a Memorial Stadium tour.

But the not-so-great day is still a fresh memory.

The third baseman from Jasper County 11U was having a stellar game hitting two doubles and fielding a pop-out by the fence.

It was the first game of the morning and the top of the third inning when it happened. He was covering the bag as a runner tried to steal third. A wide throw, a stretch of his legs and a crack of another player colliding with him is what his mom Amy heard and saw as her son fell to ground in tremendous pain.

From there it was like a slow-motion replay for Amy and dad Travis. Amy heard her son screaming and saw the coaches searching for them, so she quickly rushed to his side to calm him.

As luck would have it, a trauma nurse was on a neighboring field who called 9-1-1 and assisted. She made sure Meyer didn’t move and further injure his leg.

“Baseball is a big family. Everyone took care of us and Meyer that day. All I had to do was focus on my son and tell the paramedics where to take him,” Amy said.

Meyer Tarr at the hospitalFollowing the ambulance, Amy remembers thinking how grateful she was that her son was going to be OK.

“It’s a calm that only God can give. You just know it’s all going to be fine,” she said, “You rise above the panic and think. 'It’s a broken leg, he’ll be fine.'”

When they arrived at the Emergency Department (ED), Carle’s Child Life Specialists joined the Tarrs, explaining to Meyer what was happening in a way he could understand. Meyer’s leg was reset in the ED, and 24 hours later he had surgery.

Dr. Sean Grambart performed the surgery and monitored Meyer’s recovery closely. Two days later, Meyer showed signs of compartment syndrome, a risk following ankle surgeries, but doctors acted swiftly to relieve the mounting pressure with a second surgery.

“Meyer’s medical team was wonderful. His nurse could tell something was wrong and was persistent about getting prompt attention,” Amy said.

Meyer was in surgery just 90 minutes later.

After the second surgery, Meyer’s pain started to subside, but he was still stuck in his bed. His family and baseball family helped him to pass the time. His aunt brought the household’s coveted “pink blankie” reserved for special TLC needs. His teammates visited, sometimes traveling two hours each way to see their friend. Family sent goodies, and Dad even coaxed Meyer into eating his favorite food – Buffalo Wild Wings.

Time in the hospital is especially hard for active youth like Meyer. Through Special Spectators, Meyer and 10 of Carle’s other young patients and their families will escape sickness and recovery for a few hours of action-packed family fun at the University of Illinois football game.

Meyer and his brother and sister head back to schoolThe special day offers a break from the always-present worry and work of caring for a child with health challenges.

And worrying Meyer is not. He’s got a great attitude and is on the road to recovery. Although Meyer still uses crutches, he has started using a walking boot and is only on a low dose of Tylenol.

Meyer is excited to see some action this Saturday, even if it’s on the gridiron instead of a ball diamond. He’s most excited about the food. What growing 12-year-old boy isn’t?

“I have never been to a real tailgating party before, and I want to see what kind of food will be there, but I think the whole day is going to be fun,” Meyer said.

The whole Tarr Family, self-proclaimed football fans, is excited. They spend their Fridays watching Dad coach, their Saturdays immersed in high school and college games, and their Sundays on the couch recapping Dad’s games and previewing next week’s challenger.

Meyer hopes to meet some of the U of I athletes and coaches and can’t wait to see the new Irwin Indoor Practice Facility.

“I’ll be watching the running backs,” (the position he would be if it weren’t for his injury), he said. Meyer also plays defense as a linebacker. The day is set up to be a touchdown, and for Mom and Dad it’s a bit of a homecoming. “We’re both alum, and this will be the first game we’ve seen with our kids,” Amy said.