Tate was just three when he was accidentally run over by a lawnmower. His injuries were severe and life-threatening from the stomach down. He was airlifted to The University of Iowa Stead Family and Children’s Hospital, where doctors would fight to save his life and his legs.
He never stops amazing us at what he can do
August 30 2017, it was evening time and Ryan was lawn mowing. Fonda had returned home from running errands with Tate, the couple’s three-year old son and his older brother. Ryan was focused on mowing, not realizing that the family had returned home. Tate was extremely excited to go see his father and in an instant had darted unobserved to right behind the mower! At that moment Ryan began to reverse the mower, not seeing the small stature of his son behind the equipment. In a split second little Tate was bellybutton to toes under the mower! As Ryan lifted the mower off of his precious child, the full severity of Tate’s injuries were revealed. His legs were gashed and broken, his intestines exposed and mangled. Ryan looked into his son’s eyes fearing these would be their last moments together. One neighbor called 911 while another rushed over and tied a tourniquet, assisting until First Responders arrived. Tate was transported in critical condition to Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo, Iowa.
Growing up, Ryan Manahl always strived to follow in his father’s footsteps. He idolized his father’s work ethic and humility. A cherished childhood memory for Ryan was walking behind his Dad when he mowed the lawn with an old fashion push mower. Many sons can recall this type of bonding experience involving equipment with their father, a kind of cultural right of passage from farms to the suburbs. Once Ryan’s own family began with his wife Fonda, the tradition of bonding with their children around lawn equipment continued. He always knew where his sons were while he was using the riding mower. When one of the boys wanted to, he would stop the blades and allow them on for a ride. It seemed an enjoyable way to spend some quality time together for a father and son just as it had in Ryan’s childhood, until the unforeseen moment that would devastate the Manahl family.
Once stabilized but still critical after arriving at Covenant, Tate was transferred to The University of Iowa Stead Family and Children’s Hospital by Life Flight. There he immediately underwent eight hours of surgery. Overall, Tate spent 43 days in the hospital, 34 of those days in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Tate and family endured more than 20 surgeries with little rest in between. Initially the surgeons primary focus was on preserving Tate’s life, so the focus was on repairing vital organs. Afterward his injured legs were able to be addressed. One extensive surgery involved transferring a vein from one leg to another, while yet another included a partial toe amputation. In the year and a half after the initial surgeries, Tate’s surgeries now totaled to more than 30. There was a monumental struggle to save Tate’s leg, infection was consistently a serious concern. Numerous conversations took place about amputation, infection, skin grafts, muscle flaps, and bone grafts. Although there will be surgeries and surgical revisions in the future, thanks to the amazing medical care Tate received, his legs were saved!
This journey for the Manahl family was filled with unprecedented emotional and physical turmoil, but also miracles, grace, and mercy. Ryan and Fonda’s faith in God allowed the family to not just persevere through this tragic accident, but to gain an intuitive compassion for children and families going through a similar experience. Ryan and Fonda were exposed to many other struggling and broken families while walking the halls of the PICU contemplating their own child’s possible survival. They also learned of hundreds and hundreds of other children who had been injured in lawn mower and agricultural equipment accidents in a closed support group that had reached out to comfort them.
From the neighbor’s assistance, to the first responders, to the hospital staffs, nurses, surgeons, and to the communities and supporters who answered the call for the Manahl family like an Army of Angels in their hour of need, Ryan and Fonda want to pay it forward utilizing Tate’s Army to make a difference in our world. Tate’s Army will be there to advocate for children’s safety, to offer support for life changing medical traumas, to increase awareness, and offer financial assistance to injured children and hurting families in their hour of need. Please support the Manahl’s genuine passion to make a difference with Tate’s Army by donation and/or sponsorship. This will enable the Tate’s Army Foundation to serve the children and families of Iowa and beyond.