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The 700 Club

Crushed Skull Can't Stop Young Golfer's Dream

Danielle Thompson - 700 Club Producer
Shannon Woodland - 700 Club Producer

The impact was deafening.  

A truck, failing to yield the right of way, broadsided the van carrying Jerry Higgins, and his two grandchildren, Cey and Traden .

Jerry said, “I heard Cey say, "Traden, wake up! Traden, wake up!"

Jerry and his granddaughter were okay.  Thirteen-year-old Traden, however...

“His skull had been crushed,” said Jerry. “ And then it wasn't very long and the paramedics were there. That’s when I called Manda.”

“He was unconscious, and he said there was just blood everywhere and that he kind of had a few seizures,” said Traden’s mom, Manda Karch.  “I just cried out to God and I said, "God, you knew this was going to happen.  It didn't catch you by surprise, and so I trust you. I know that he's in your hands and you're in complete control."

Manda arrived at Saint Francis Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, shortly after Traden.  He was barely alive.

Manda said, “I just started texting everyone I knew and just saying, "We need you to pray."

Traden’s dad, Chris, got to the ER moments before his son was taken to surgery.

“There was a lot of blood and I definitely was not expecting to see all the blood,” said Chris. “It made it very real the severity of the situation.”  
“The doctors and the nurses had all told us that they thought he would live for maybe 24 hours,” said Manda.

As the hours passed, the waiting room filled up with family and friends praying for the teenager.

Manda said, “So that was a blessing, you know, to have just so many people automatically praying for him.”

As for Chris and Manda, memories flooded in of the fun-loving seventh grader, who less than a year earlier sunk the winning putt for his team at the Junior PGA Regional Final.

“That was really exciting for him,” said Chris.  “Because he wasn't the best by a long shot on their team.”

“I said, "but look at what God did for you." I said, "how He let you make that winning putt,” said Manda.

Now they were begging God for their son’s life.

They also reached out through social media.

Chris said, “It was a desperate plea, basically just saying if you’re a praying person please pray. I need as many people praying to God as I possibly can.”

Traden survived the six- hour surgery and was placed in a medically induced coma.  

“The doctors came in and said, "We have done everything we can possibly do for Traden. there's nothing more medically that we can do for him. The rest is up to Traden,” said Manda.
Chris said, “We really had no idea what was going to happen or if he was going to wake up.”

“He’ll never talk or walk,” said Manda. “He'll be kind of in a vegetative state.”

Prayers and encouragement came in from everywhere on social media – including the PGA. in fact, one of Traden’s favorite golfers, Rory McIlroy, sent him a personal message.

Rory McIlroy message:
“And I wish you a really speedy recovery.  Golf and the PGA Junior League really need you.  And when you’re feeling better, I want you to come to a tournament and meet me and we can hang out. And hopefully we’ll see you soon.”

With Traden still in a coma, the family clung to the outpouring of love, and their faith in God.  Then, three weeks after surgery the swelling in his brain had gone down and he woke up.

Manda said, “He starts sitting up on his own. And then only a week later does he start walking around the hospital with assistance. Each day they would see his progress.  Every doctor would come in and just say how he was a miracle.”

After only five weeks in the hospital, Traden was released to go to rehab.

“Traden actually walked out of the hospital on his own,” said Manda.

Still Traden faced major hurdles. He couldn’t speak and had lost his memory.  As he worked with the rehab staff just to form sounds, the family again turned to prayer.  Within a week they saw more signs of God’s healing.  

“Traden spoke my name for the very first time,” Manda said.
“He couldn’t actually say words and so he was sounding out each letter to my name, just to Mom.”

And when Chris brought Traden’s putter to him...

“That's when I knew. I was like it - that part has stayed because he gripped the exact same way. We were excited about that,” said Chris.  

Two months after the accident, Traden went home.  His speech and memory continued to improve as he had to re-learn everything he’d learned since kindergarten.  By fall, he was back in school and finished the 7th grade that year.  By then he’d watched Rory McIlroy’s message dozens of time.  He also got to meet him.

Traden said, “I remember he walked in and my mind was like, "Huh, is this really him?" and, sure enough, it was.”

At 17, Traden shows little sign of speech or memory impairment, and he looks forward to graduating in 2022. He’s also back on the golf course and challenging his dad whenever he can.

“I was there I heard the prognosis, and I knew what we were looking at. God healed Traden, there’s no doubt,” said Chris.

Traden said, “In my opinion, the only reason why I'm still alive is people praying.”

“There is so much power in prayer,” Manda said. “I mean I believe that we have the same power, we can call upon the same power that raised Christ from the dead. And so, you have to call upon that power.”

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