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2013 Story of the Year: Jonathan Rengifo

2013 Winner - Jonathan Rengifo
Town: East Rutherford, NJ

Your 2013 winner, Jonathan Rengifo was in the passenger seat being driven by his cousin, when an underage driver without a license, drove the wrong way and struck their car head-on. The accident, which occurred on Jul. 11, left Jonathan with facial and chest lacerations, broken teeth, two broken hips, a fractured nose and a fractured wrist.

"The crash took my summer away from me,” said Rengifo. “I missed out on doing what I love most, playing football my friends. I was waiting for Aug. 1, so I could be back on the field playing [quarterback] football with my Wildcat brothers.”

When that day arrived, Jonathan received his physical therapy plan, which included riding a stationary bicycle, squats, balancing himself on boards and doing planks. The sessions lasted for two hours and took place twice per week. On the same day, the Carlstadt/East Rutherford Wildcats started their first day of practice. Jonathan's physician cautioned him and explained that he may not recover in time for the football season.

His fellow Wildcat teammates and friends rallied around him and created the BATTLE 80 Facebook page. They sold bracelets and towels with all of the profits going to the Rengifo family.

On Sept. 18, two months after the accident and six weeks ahead of schedule, Jonathan was medically cleared for practice. On Sept. 22, in a game against the Wallington Panthers, he played in his first game since the accident. Two weeks later, at his first home game, Jonathan scored a touchdown on a 20-yard run.

"It was a good day. I will always think about the accident and how it could've ruined my life. But God gave me a second chance to live and do what I love best, play football again,” he said.

According to the announcer, Jonathan Rengifo was "all the way back."

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