Family hopeful after foul ball severely injures child

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A bat breaks and a foul line drive changes your life forever.

Joplin mom Alicia Hughes-Hirshey took her family to the Missouri Southern State University baseball game on Friday.

"We had just gotten there, the kids hadn't opened their pop yet," said Alicia Hughes-Hirshey.

That's when a night at the ballpark turned into a nightmare. Her seven-year-old son Dawson Hughes was hit in the head by a foul ball.

Her husband Nick saw it happen. But the ball came too fast to react.

The family was in the stands, just outside the dugout and past the reach of the protective nets at the city's Joe Becker Stadium.

"I started yelling for a medic, I knew it was going to be serious," said Hughes-Hirshey.

From there, Dawson's family drove him to the hospital in Joplin.

"They knew they couldn’t do the operation he was going to need," said Hughes-Hirshey, who described the situation as very serious.

Because of the weather at the hospital was unable to airlift Dawson, so they made the drive to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City.

Dawson had brain surgery, probably within 20 minutes of his arrival, according to Hughes-Hirshey.
Part of his skull was removed and his recovery will be over the next two months.

Hughes-Hirshey said they expect some physical challenges, but says his math and language skills will be intact.

The family remains encouraged since Dawson had no seizures and he has opened his eyes.

“We get hand squeezes if something makes him mad or hurts. You’re going to feel it," said Hughes-Hirshey.

The MSSU baseball team circled the mound at the next game, in prayer for Dawson, who also has a twin sister named Delaney.

Community and family members have set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for Dawson's medical bills.

According to the Associated Press, Missouri Southern State University officials are also working to provide financial support to the family. Hughes-Hirshey is a university employee.

Hughes-Hirshey said after her son's surgery, the doctor said he was 99 percent sure it was a success.

"It was a praise God moment. Probably the best news we’ve gotten in our lives," said Hughes-Hirshey.

She said, now, her determined son will drive the recovery.

"The day that door shuts behind all four of us. That’s going to be the best day of our lives," said Hughes-Hirshey.

The city of Joplin said to his knowledge the stadium meets all of the safety requirements.

MSSU said it was unsure if it's tickets were printed with language that has to do with patron's safety.

In MLB games nets must stretch 70 feet in each direction of home plate.

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