It only took a fraction of a second. He had just gotten done playing, so he ran over to the stands to see his wife and daughter. His daughter was about to eat, so he decided to stay to give his wife a hand. All of a sudden, everything was a blur, and she felt a sharp pain on her arm. He attempted to make sense of what was going on. Finally, he had a horrible realization.
There was no way way for Lee Hovenga to know that his love of baseball would drastically change his life. He lived a typical American lifestyle in Shell Rock, Iowa. In October 2016, he had married his girlfriend, Kassy. The couple desperately wanted to start a family, but it would prove not to be an easy task. The Hovengas would end up experiencing a lot of heartbreak in the following years.
It wasn’t long after they got married that Lee and Kassy began trying to conceive a child. But after a few months of trying, they still didn’t have any luck. They eventually decided to speak to a doctor to try to get some help. The doctor advised them to seek fertility treatment. After they talked about it for awhile, the couple decided to try it out and prayed that it would work. It would seem that God was listening.
Kassy found out that she was expecting in July of 2017. Considering they had wanted this for such a long time, Kassy and Lee couldn’t have been happier. Lee did an amazing job taking care of Kassy while she was pregnant. Kassy made sure she ate well and got plenty of rest. She wanted to give her child the best start in life she could. Soon it was time for the arrival of their little one.
The Hovengas welcomed their healthy little girl to the world on March 10, 2018. They named her McKenna and their new lives together had begun. A newborn requires 24/7 care, so for the next few weeks Kassy stayed home and Lee did his best to help her out with taking care of McKenna. Since they couldn’t leave, except for errands and doctor’s visits, the Hovengas were homebodies. But they were looking forward to something.
Lee absolutely loves sports, especially baseball and football. Lee also plays softball for a local league, even though there haven’t been any games thanks to the cold winter months. As summer approached, it was time for the games to start back up. He would play in his first game May 2. Lee and Kassy decided it would be a nice opportunity to get out of the house and to bring McKenna for her first outing. They never pictured what would actually happen.
While Lee was on the field warming up, Kassy sat on the bleachers behind third base. As Lee was playing, his adoring wife cheered him on. The game was finished and the other team took the field. Lee went up to the bleachers to check in on his family. What would happen was completely unexpected.
Kassy needed to breastfeed McKenna, so Lee stayed to help her cover up so she would be more comfortable. As they were watching McKenna nurse, they took their eyes off of the field. Someone had hit a grand slam. They had hit it at a weird angle though. The ball flew over the fence and headed straight in their direction.
Kassy was interrupted by feeling a sharp pain in her arm. After a few moments of confusion, they realized that Kassy had been hit in the arm by the ball. All of the people next to her asked her if she was okay. Kassy knew she would have a bruise, but she would be okay. That’s when McKenna began to scream.
Kassy and Lee thought McKenna was crying because of all of the noise that had interrupted her eating. It was also her first time out of the house, so could have just been getting fussy. Then they realized what was making her scream. McKenna had a lump forming on the side of her head. Apparently, she had been hit by the ball, as well. The parents immediately left the ballpark and headed towards Waverly Health Center. Their frightening ordeal had just begun.
The doctors at Waverly Health Center were able to stabilize McKenna by putting her on anti-seizure medication. Soon, they realized that McKenna’s condition was far worse than they were able to treat. After speaking with the Hovengas, doctors had McKenna airlifted to Mary’s Hospital at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Even though she was under expert care, McKenna’s diagnosis wasn’t good.
Due to the impact of the speeding ball, McKenna had several skull fractures and two brain bleeds. McKenna had spent the next few days suffering from multiple seizures, some that lasted for more than 15 minutes. Since the seizures were so severe, McKenna was put into a deep coma and placed on a ventilator. The Hovengas were heartbroken.
A CT scan taken two days after the injury showed that one of the brain bleeds had gotten bigger. McKenna needed to have a blood transfusion to combat the loss of blood. Finally, McKenna began to stabilize. Lee and Kassy found out that they wouldn’t know how bad the brain damage was until the swelling of the brain went down and she could wake up. Now it was a waiting game.
Kassy and Lee have spent every day at the hospital with McKenna. They set up a page on Facebook called “Healing for McKenna” to keep their friends and family updated on her condition. Kassy’s great-aunt, Laura, writes the updates on the age for them when they’re not able to. The family also opened a YouCaring page asking for donations for McKenna’s medical expenses. They’ve already reached $41,000 of their $50,000 goal. They just want McKenna to get better fast.
After numerous seizure, and weeks of ups and downs, McKenna is finally getting a little better. She was removed from the ventilator and she’s breathing on her own again. Slowly, the doctors are taking her off strong medications, like phenobarbitol. Considering how grave her condition was, McKenna is progressing wonderfully. Kassy and Lee are grateful for everyone’s prayers and are looking forward to bringing McKenna home. What would you do if this was your child?