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Support bolsters youth's spirits

Brady Damhof, 13, left, visits with his cousin Bryton Damhof, 13, of Roseland during a fundraiser held to help the Atwater boy who was injured in a hunting accident last month. The "Breakfast For Brady" was held Saturday morning, and organizers say the benefit could yield more than $40,000 including foundation support. (Tribune photo by Ron Adams)

WILLMAR -- A 13-year-old boy injured in a Kandiyohi County hunting accident this fall was bolstered by a strong showing of community support over the weekend, and is taking his first steps toward re-turning to normal activities this week, said his mother.

Brady Damhof, an eighth-grader in the Willmar Schools, was planning to return to school for an hour today. The goal is for Damhof to slowly return to school and resume other activities as he is able, said his mother, Betty Damhof, a social worker in the Willmar Schools.

She said her son was "a little overwhelmed at times'' when some 1,200 people showed up for a benefit breakfast Saturday morning at Kennedy Elementary School in Willmar.

The youth is recovering after an Oct. 3 hunting accident in Fahlun Township of Kandiyohi County. His hunting companion apparently stumbled and discharged a shotgun into Damhof's left shoulder at close range.

The youth was airlifted and treated at North Memorial Medical Center, and has undergone surgeries to his arm. He is home now and undergoing therapy.

Damhof has some movement in his left hand's fingers, but he is still experiencing significant pain from the nerve damage in his arm. He is working with therapists to regain as much mobility in his arm as he can.

He is an avid athlete and the injury has been hard on him both physically and emotionally, his mother said.

She said the family was unprepared for the big showing of support they found on Saturday. She called it "awesome'' and said the continued support her son has enjoyed from the community and friends is very much appreciated.

Steve Lueders, whose 13-year-old son is a friend of Brady Damhof, said the idea to hold the benefit was one of those things that quickly took off. Shortly after a couple of friends announced the plans, "we had a committee of 20,'' said Lueders.

He said the benefit could raise more than $40,000, thanks to freewill donations, proceeds from a silent auction and support from the Tim Orth Foundation.

"I am very, very proud of what the community did,'' said Lueders.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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