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West Ottawa High School students fundraise for classmate recovering after crash

This Saturday's spike ball tournament is inspired by 16-year-old Sam Smalldon's love of the game.

HOLLAND, Michigan — A West Ottawa High School student is still in the hospital after a car crash last month. His mom says he's on the road to recovery, and his friends are showing their support to help get him there. 

16-year-old Sam Smalldon is a junior in school, as well as a football and baseball player. Jill Smalldon, his mother, says he's making good progress at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. 

His friends hope to soon see him enjoying some of his favorite things, like fishing and spike ball. 

"It's a long road, that's for sure. It's a lesson in patience," Jill says.

The crash happened on Sept. 9 in Park Township. Sam was driving and lost control of his car, hitting some trees. He was in critical condition and suffered multiple skull fractures, two brain bleeds, as well as broken bones and bruises.

"He's actually doing well, given the circumstances. He has multiple therapies throughout the day, physical and occupational and music and speech and all of that," Jill says.

After surgeries and therapy, Sam is now minimally conscious. He's not able to communicate verbally but he can follow commands.

Jill says he was able to take some steps a few days ago.

"It's been a five week journey, sometimes feels like it's been six months already, to me," she says. "The support and the follow up is much appreciated."

"He's a good friend to have. He's nice all around," Tyler Kastens, a junior at the high school, says.

He's a friend of Sam's, as well as a teammate on the baseball team. But what they really enjoy is playing spike ball on the beach during summer.

That was the inspiration to this weekend's spike ball tournament at the high school to raise money for Sam's medical bills. 

Tyler also wants to raise awareness on safe driving for teenagers.

"Maybe driving fast is kind of fun, but when stuff like this happens, it can change in an instant, like anything can happen to anybody at any time," he says.

All of his friends are looking forward to Sam's recovery.

"I want to just see him again see him when he's fully recovered and just like meet the old Sam again," Carson Morely, a junior at the high school, says.

"Then hopefully, he'll be playing spike ball again with me," Tyler says.

The tournament starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15. It'll be at the field behind the West Ottawa High School's south campus building. While only students in the district can play, anyone is encouraged to come by and show their support.

They'll be taking cash and mobile app donations at the tournament, as well as directing those interested to the family's GoFundMe page.

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