NEW ULM, Minn. (KMSP) - Just like many seniors at New Ulm High School, Ben Mathiowetz is loving every minute of Homecoming week.
But for Ben, the past four years have been anything but a typical high school experience.
“I got put in a wheelchair,” said Ben.
January, his freshman year, Ben went skiing and lost control on icy conditions. He hit a tree and suffered a traumatic brain injury. His friend, Greg Miller, was with him.
“He was riding behind me - yeah it was very slippery and it could have happened to anybody,” said Miller.
“He had a three percent chance of survival and if he did we were told it would be very grim,” said Ben’s mom, Lynn Mathiowetz.
Lynn recalls him being in a coma and spending months at the Mayo Clinic for surgeries along with helping her son learn to walk and talk all over again. His friends recall celebrating the milestones along the way.
“It was so cool to see him do them for the first time,” said longtime friend, Erin Gleisner.
“No one expected him to get this far,” said Miller. “It’s amazed all of us. It’s pretty awesome.”
While Ben has already earned three state titles in shot put and discus, this week the entire student body is celebrating Ben once again. They voted him to be this year’s Homecoming King.
“Mixed emotions, like happy and surprised - mind blown,” said Ben.
While he’s modest and jokes about being called king, it’s clear being surrounded by the support of his friends has always been the very best type of therapy.
“Yeah he was proud. You could just tell when he did his walk with the queen,” said Lynn. “We are not giving up, we are not going to quit because I still feel he has a lot more in him. I know he does.”