Ice Network

Synchro community comes to aid of injured skater

Kansas City Illusion member Madeline Mudd receives outpouring of support
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Marcy Mudd (left) has been amazed at how the synchronized community has rallied around her daughter. -courtesy of Kansas City Illusion

A routine day at the rink recently turned into a life-threatening emergency for a young skater.

Sixteen-year-old Madeline Mudd, a member of the Kansas City Illusion synchronized skating team, was practicing alone at the Line Creek Figure Skating Club in Kansas City, Mo., on July 3 when she suffered a brain aneurysm. She managed to get off the ice before collapsing.

Mudd's coach, Amy Fankhauser, immediately called 9-1-1. Two of her Illusion teammates and Fankhauser stayed with Mudd and held her until the ambulance arrived.

Mudd was taken to the University of Kansas Medical Center, where she underwent surgery and was placed in a medically induced coma. According to her mother, Marcy, when the procedure failed to reduce the pressure on Madeline's brain, she underwent a craniectomy, in which two pieces of bone were removed from her skull. The procedure was successful and her pressure stabilized.

"During the following weeks in the ICU, [Madeline] battled vessel spasms in the brain and a lung infection," Marcy wrote in an email. "She fought hard and survived all of this. After 23 days, she was transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation hospital. Today, she is home in Kansas City and attending a full-day outpatient rehab program."

Throughout her recovery, members of her team have shown their support to Mudd and her family, and synchronized teams around the country have sent cards, gifts and messages. The Illusion put "We Love Madeline" on their team camp shirts. The grandmother of a team member made Madeline a quilt, which all the team signed. The father of one of her team members is a pastor, and he officiated a prayer service; 200 people attended, and one of Mudd's teammates played the violin.

Mudd's hospital room was filled with posters, pictures, ribbons and a chain of paper skates from her own team members as well as other teams.

"Capital Classics from Jefferson City, Missouri, made her a pillow case and a card," Fankhauser said. "Team Del Sol sent a card, and the Haydenettes each made a poster that said 'Strength for Madeline.' We are overwhelmed by the support from our synchro family."

Mudd was released from the hospital Aug. 17, and the next day her family took her to the rink to watch her team practice.

"Physically, she is recovering very quickly, and we attribute this to figure skating," Marcy said. "She still has very little short-term memory, and [she] will be in rehab for a long time for memory and cognitive therapy."

The Kansas City Illusion is in its second year as an intermediate team. Mudd started skating on public sessions six years ago, and this is her fifth year as a member of the team.  

"Madeline's injury has affected the members of our team individually and also as a whole," team member Delia Smith said. "We have really come together to form one big support system for Madeline, and as a result our team is now closer and stronger than ever. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, and we've realized that you have to cherish every moment on and off the ice. Seeing the skating community come together for Madeline is absolutely incredible."

"Madeline not being able to skate with us this year has taken a toll on all of us," Illusion member Kate Williams said. "We never could have imagined something like this happening to our team. As a result of her injury, it has brought our team closer together, sharing the love and support we have for Madeline and each other."

Both Smith and Williams thanked the skating community for its support. Fankhauser said she hopes Mudd will be able to skate with the team again soon.

"She is very driven and dedicated to the sport, so it does not surprise us that Madeline is overcoming this enormous obstacle with such strength," Fankhauser said. "When Madeline sets her mind to something, nothing stands in her way."

Although her daughter will need more surgery before her recovery is complete, Marcy also said she hopes Madeline will be able to skate again.

"For this season, we plan to attend and watch as many practices as possible and one day join our team again," she said.

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