Northwood’s Cluckey recovering after devastating injury

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

When Kaden Cluckey woke up on April 15, he probably thought it would be just like any other day where he was playing basketball.
But when the Northwood junior took an elbow to the throat while trying to draw a charge at an AAU game at Legacy Center Sports Complex in Michigan, things took a turn for the worse. One of Cluckey’s vocal cords had been cut and he was taken to Brighton Hospital.
“They had him do a CT scan really fast and said they didn’t have the tech support that Ann Arbor had,” said Cluckey’s mother, Stephanie.
From there, he took an air ambulance and was transferred to C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, about 19 miles away. Cluckey underwent immediate surgery and spent some time in ICU. He had a trachea tube put in and could not talk for 10 days.
“I’m feeling a lot better,” said the basketball standout. “It’s better to be home and go back to a normal life instead of being in the hospital.”
Needless to say, it was quite frightening in the aftermath of the injury, not knowing the severity of what had happened.
“It was definitely a pretty scary experience,” Cluckey said. “With all the support I’ve had, it’s been easy to get over it. I’m just trying to not let it affect me so I can get back out there on the court sooner rather than later. The support is the reason I got through everything so fast.”
Stephanie Cluckey was there during the basketball game.
“It was very scary; I was the only parent with him at the time. I was trying to keep calm for him but dying inside, knowing what was happening,” she said. “I told him to keep calm and breathe and that everything was going to be OK.”
Cluckey, who also plays baseball, celebrated his 17th birthday from his hospital bed.
Kaden Cluckey’s girlfriend, Ava Schober created a GoFundMe page — — to help with medical expenses. (The goal, which was $5,000, had more than doubled at press time, reaching $11,163 in donations.)
“That was definitely something I didn’t expect at all,” he said. “It was cool to see a lot of people that I don’t even know showing support, and people who don’t have a lot making a donation.”
Stephanie Cluckey said she is overwhelmed by the support he has received from the community.
“It was amazing. I didn’t expect this – maybe a couple thousand dollars,” she said. “The Northwood community did an amazing job. All of the texts, calls, cards, visitors he had — we’re very blessed to be in a community like that. I thank the community for their efforts. It makes me teary-eyed every time I think about it.”
Both Kaden and his mom had high praise for the medical staff at both hospitals.
“He went to surgery in Ann Arbor. The doctors, nurses and surgeons at both hospitals were amazing,” Stephanie Cluckey said. “I think that helped get Kaden through this.”
“The nurses, doctors and surgeons were great; they kept me calm when I was anxious,” he said. “They made everything a really easy process.”
Cluckey goes back in a few weeks to undergo an evaluation.
“My first check-up is May 23, so I’m going to see what they have to say,” said Cluckey, who is allowed to go back to his normal routine, except for playing sports just yet. “I just got a personal invite from Bluffton University for an elite basketball camp. After that, I’ll probably work a little bit with my dad and make some money.”


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