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October 6, 2013

MARTINO: Freedom Hunt provides lasting memories for all

Cass County farm serves as home to event.

It was last December. Noah Barbknecht was filled with excitement. Fresh off a rabbit hunting trip with his father, Jason, the impressionable 15-year-old was looking forward to visiting his older brother, Chris, who was stationed in New York with the National Guard 109th Air Wing. It was going to be a Christmas family reunion for which they all longed. Little did they know that particular holiday season their lives would change forever.

It was Christmas Eve when the entire family, which included the boys, their father and mother Sandi, traveled to Vermont for a day of snow skiing. To them, it was a true holiday celebration of being together again as a family reunited.

“We are all accomplished skiers so when we hit the slopes, Noah took off,” said Jason.

Roughly an hour had passed when he became curious as to where his youngest son had ventured off.

“I got on a chair lift and started looking around for him,” he explained. That’s when he spotted his son lying motionless on an adjoining slope. Noah had tried to jump a small ditch when he accidentally slammed into the opposite bank.

After reaching the top of the mountain, Jason immediately made his way down the snow covered slope to his son.

“The ski patrol was already there and had him strapped on a backboard and prepped him for the emergency ride to the hospital,” he recalled.

After numerous X-rays and tests, the news was something no parent ever wants to hear. It was early Christmas morning when they learned Noah had a collapsed lung, broken ribs and worse, his spine was completely severed. The young, outgoing boy would never walk again.

Noah received a tracheotomy and was hooked up to a ventilator. Upon regaining consciousness, they could tell he was trying to communicate something to them.

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