Sports | September 30, 2017 7:00 am

Injured High School Football Players Turn to Crowdfunding to Pay Health Care

SB Nation details the struggles of Jasiel Favors, who broke his spine as a sophomore during a game.

On September 2, 2015, high school sophomore Jasiel Favors’s life changed forever when he made a tackle during a football game and broke his spine. He was immediately paralyzed.

Jasiel was in the hospital for three months, and a surgeon spent six hours fixing three broken vertebrae, reports SB NationThe 16-year-old and his family live in Round Rock, Texas. SB Nation writes that the state has been slashing programs that help people pay for health care, which left the Favors in a bad position.

Jasiel told SB Nation that the hardest thing about his injury is “dealing with the reliance on other people.” But money is also another hardship for the family.  According to a poll done by the University of Texas and the Texas Tribune, and reported by SB Nation, 52 percent of surveyed Texans think the Affordable Care Act should be repealed. The state also cut $1 billion in state funding for Medicaid, which meant they forfeited another $1.4 billion in federal funding, writes SB Nation. Cuts in Texas also removed $350 million from Medicaid pay for therapists, including the physical and occupational therapists that Jaisel now needed, SB Nation writes.

So the family turned to the internet. They set up a crowdfunding page to help pay for medical bills, and later, to help pay for transport to get him to and from appointments and occasionally see his friends. SB Nation writes that this idea is pretty common in Texas. According to Gridiron Heroes, a Texas-based nonprofit that helps high school football players who have spinal cord injuries, there have been 26 documented cases of paralyzing injuries among high school players in Texas since 2003. Many of those families turn to fundraising sites.

In fact, this trend appears to be nationwide. According to SB Nation, NerdWallet found that nearly half of the $2 billion raised by GoFundMe campaigns over a studied period were medical-related. A study done by the University of Washington Bothell found that personal medical campaigns like the Favors’s are more likely to come from people who live in states that did not expand Medicaid under the ACA, SB Nation reports.

Though they were able to raise money through crowdfunding sites, the Favors still owe a lot. Jasiel is looking towards at least 10 years of physical therapy, but he can “move his fingers if he thinks about it.” He still needs a lot of “tests, caregivers, and attention,” Debra Favors, his mom said to SB Nation. 

“I never know how bad the bills are going to be until I open them. But they’re never as cheap as they need to be,” Debra said.