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Overland Park community rallies behind teen athlete fighting rare bacterial infection

Brinley Huston.jpg
Posted at 7:22 PM, Jun 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-04 10:32:15-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A 13-year-old, all-star athlete in Overland Park is fighting for her life at Children's Mercy KC after developing a rare bacterial infection from an injury.

It started about a month ago with a minor kick to Brinley Hutson's shin during a soccer game. The same area on her leg was hit again a week later during a softball game. She started feeling ill on May 17 and sought medical attention immediately. She was admitted to Children’s Mercy on the last day of school.

“We cried, we hugged, we stayed positive for each other and we’re going to continue,” Dario Jaramillo, Hutson's soccer coach, said. “We’re all kind of building into one family – supporting Brinley and her family in getting through this.”

After more than 10 surgeries, doctors ultimately had to amputate Hutson's left leg from the knee down. Jaramillo said that while the fight against the infection is far from over, he hopes she can feel the love and support of everyone around her. The team also plans to have “education sessions” to learn more about prosthesis before Hutson's return.

“It’s never a 'me' thing with Brinley, it’s a 'we' thing," Jaramillo said. "She always builds, she never blames. She is always the first to reach out and support her teammate. She’s just going to have to learn to play a little differently, but we’re gonna get her there.”

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Brinley Hutson and her teammates.

For her teammates, the practice field has not felt the same since her departure. Hutson's defense partner, Kate Wells, said she misses taking on opponents with her partner in action.

“It’s just hard when she’s not there. I mean, it’s difficult when you don’t have, like, your second half,” Wells said.

While it is tough for everyone to understand “Why Brinley?” her teammates said the universe chose her for a reason.

“I think it’s because God knows that she can fight it off," Liana Jaramillo said. "I think God knows if anyone is strong enough to move on and become a better person, not use it as a negative and use it as a positive, it’s Brinley."

The road to recovery brings much uncertainty, but one thing is for certain.

“Nothing changes,” Keira Witkowski said. “It’s her personality that matters to me and what draws her to be my friend.”

Hutson's story has reached multiple professional sports teams, including the Kansas City Chiefs, Sporting KC and the Washington Football Team. Alex Smith, a former Chief, who fought off a similar bacterial infection plans to send her a surprise.

There also is a GoFundMe for Hutson's medical expenses, and the community will host a series of events and fundraisers to help support her recovery.