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Duluth student athlete remaining positive after life-changing accident

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DULUTH, MN -- In the blink of an eye, Duluth East student-athlete Mason Branstrator's life was turned upside down.

He was skiing at Spirit Mountain Monday when a crash left him seriously hurt, and facing the possibility he may never walk again.

"Everything has changed, forever," said Branstrator.

What started off as a normal day for 17-year-old Branstrator and his girlfriend, quickly went sideways.

"We got our stuff on and got off at the top of the hill and just went straight down to where the jumps were. I just remember being in the air upside down and that's all I remember until after 5 o'clock and I was at the hospital," said Branstrator.

His mom, Stacy Crawford, said it's the phone call no parent ever wants to receive.

"Immediately you have to move into what needs to be done. This is your most precious thing in life, your children," said Crawford.

Mason broke his back and suffered a spinal cord injury.

He now has very little feeling in his legs, and can't move them.

He's being treated at Essentia before heading to a treatment facility in Colorado.

"To be around people that are hopefully my age that are going through similar experiences and they just have a lot of resources there," said Branstrator.

His mom started a GoFundMe page to help with hospital costs. The community donated more than $20,000 in the last two days.

"I initially set an amount of $20,000 and today we learned that the transportation to just get to the Craig hospital could be from $15,000 to $80,000 depending on what is covered by insurance," said Crawford.

Both Mason and his parents agree they are overwhelmed with the support they have received.

"Part of what has sustained us is the unbelievable outpouring of love that has come from our friends and family," said Donn Branstrator, Mason's father.

That, and another silver lining, is keeping him going.

"I realized that I was going so fast that I never had the time to enjoy what was going on and now I'll have all the time in the world to enjoy what's going on around me," said Branstrator.

If all goes well, he's hoping to head to Colorado next week to begin therapy.

Click here to access his GoFundMe page.

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Ryan Compeau

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