Traffic came to a halt Tuesday afternoon in downtown Templeton as a police escort ushered the minivan carrying Templeton High School football player Isaac Lindsey down Main Street. Hundreds of cheering and waving supporters gathered outside the Templeton Market & Deli holding signs to greet him.
The 17-year-old Lindsey wore a big smile as he looked out the van window and waved back at the crowd lining three blocks.
“It sure feels a lot like Christmas,” said Isaac’s mother, Jenny Lindsey.
Tuesday marked 95 days since Isaac Lindsey was carried off the field on a stretcher following a traumatic head injury in a game against San Luis Obispo High School. After spending more than three months at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s Rehabilitation Center, Lindsey came home Tuesday in time to spend the holidays with his mother, younger sister Mattie, brother Louis and father Michael.
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“This is like welcoming the president home for us,” said Brandy Blackburn-Herndon as she stood on the sidewalk, awaited the minivan’s appearance. “He got home I think much quicker than we expected.”
It was amazing to see Isaac drive through town, that big ol’ smile on his face. It’s good to have him back.
Nate Avery, best friend
Lindsey’s best friend, Nate Avery, rushed out to his teammate with gifts in his hand as the van passed Templeton Market. Avery handed Lindsey a carton of milk and a box of chicken tenders — a couple of Lindsey’s favorites from the downtown spot.
“It was amazing to see Isaac drive through town, that big ol’ smile on his face,” Avery said. “It’s good to have him back.”
Lindsey collapsed after coming off the field during a Sept. 18 football game at Templeton High School. Paramedics whisked him to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, where he underwent surgery and was put into a medically induced coma for a week. He was transferred to the rehabilitation center in San Jose on Oct. 2.
Every Sunday since October, Avery said he has made the three-hour drive to be by his friend’s side.
“He is a big part of our lives, everybody, so it’s good to have him back and to be able to go to his house now instead of having to drive all the way up to Santa Clara,” Avery said.
From best friends to strangers, many in Templeton have joined “Team Isaac” to root for Lindsey and his family since September. And on Tuesday, a diverse group, including children as young as 3, was part of the welcoming crowd.
“Welcome home! I hope you feel better soon!” called out 5-year-old Adrian Anastasia as he held a “Welcome Home Isaac” sign.
The scene Tuesday was no surprise to many in Templeton or people following Lindsey’s progress. Community support and donations for the Lindsey family have continued to pour in since September. As of Tuesday evening, more than $104,000 has been donated on GoFundMe.com and through other fundraising efforts to help ease the Lindsey family’s financial burden.
With Isaac home, Jenny Lindsey has asked well-wishers to limit texts, calls and emails so the family can focus on Isaac. She said the family is in the process of setting up further rehabilitation treatment for Isaac near their Atascadero home.
“For them to have their whole family in one place and not splitting their time between the hospital and home, to have Christmas traditions that they normally would have is huge,” said Blackburn-Herdon, who helped organize an event supporting Lindsey in Templeton Park in September.
“It brings tears to my eyes to think about the fact he gets to wake up Christmas morning with his family, not in a hospital bed.”