Landon Marazon forges ahead after serious accident.
Three weeks following a terrible March 16 utility vehicle accident that cost him most of his left hand, 9-year-old Landon Marazon returned home from Tampa General Hospital to continue a life that seemingly would be different.
His father, Daryl Marazon watched, though, as Landon put a baseball game into his Xbox at their Myakka City home.
"He's not really a (video) gamer, but he just loves baseball," said Daryl, a UPS driver. "I looked at the controller. It had 12 or 14 buttons on the left and the right."
The father had no idea how his son was going to handle what now seemed like a monumental task.
Just fine, thank you.
Daryl left Landon alone, and sat back and admired the way Landon went full-speed ahead, as good as ever.
Landon's mom, Nickie Marazon, said she and Daryl weren't really surprised. "He always has been independent," Nickie said. "He doesn't want me to help."
Father and son have pushed toward the future, but mom, through tears, admitted it's going to take a while to adjust emotionally from one of the most horrifying times of her life.
Daryl was working and Nickie was visiting friends in their Myakka City neighborhood on March 16, a Friday night. Her two children, Landon and 7-year-old Camilla, were playing with other kids outside in the neighborhood.
What the Marazons didn't know was the children had managed to get the keys to one of their neighbor's utility task vehicles and were driving it.
Camilla came running to her mother. "She was screaming, 'Landon's dead.'"
Nickie rushed to the scene of the accident on McLeod Road, a dirt road nearby. Her mind was racing with what she might find.
But as she came to the overturned UTV, she saw Landon, who was driving, laying on the ground, pinned under the UTV, but awake and calm. Three other children in the vehicle were not injured.
A petite woman, Nickie kept trying to life the vehicle off her son, without any luck. She looked at him again, summoned all her strength, and lifted the vehicle. When Landon came free, he told his mom he didn't have his left hand.
Nickie loaded Landon into her car and headed toward the fire station for help, but came across a Sheriff's Office Patrol vehicle. A Bayflight helicopter was there in minutes, and Landon was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital.
Seven surgeries and almost three weeks later, Landon was able to return home.
"The first surgery was to see if they could save his hand," Nickie said. "They couldn't."
The following surgeries include "skin flaps" and skin grafts. "I am told there are several surgeries on the horizon," she said.
For now, though, doctors want Landon to continue his growth before they decide how they can best help. Meanwhile, Landon wants to continue pursuing the sport he loves most, baseball.
"He told me he wants to be like Jim Abbott," Daryl said.
Abbott played for 10 seasons in Major League Baseball despite being born without a right hand. He wore a glove on his throwing hand and learned to flip his glove on and off, depending on whether he had to field or throw a ball.
Members of the Lakewood Ranch Little League want to design a glove for Landon, who has a thumb on his left hand, but no fingers. Landon has told his dad that he believes he can flip a glove on and off his right hand the way Abbott did.
Daryl is hoping Landon, who said his biggest worry is "just carrying stuff," can give baseball a shot in the fall.
As far as hitting goes, batting instructor Micky Rivera of Extra Innings in Sarasota said he will "do whatever it takes," to help Landon at the plate. Rivera gave Landon his first batting lesson on the afternoon of the accident. It was the first time he had met the 9-year-old.
He was so moved when he heard of the accident he went to Tampa General three times, bringing gear such as a bat and a glove.
Nickie and Daryl have been overwhelmed by the support their family has received since the accident. While in the hospital, Landon received a call from new Tampa Bay Bucs defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul, who suffered a serious fireworks injury to his right hand in 2015 but has continued being one of the top players in the NFL.
On April 7, the Bradenton Marauders set up a surprise visit for Landon. A group of players met him 45 minutes before their season home opener with the St. Lucie Mets. They chatted with his family and gave Landon a tour through the clubhouse and weight room. Initially shy, Landon was drawn into the players' playfulness.
Eventually, the Marauders' community relations specialist, Katie Fritz, led Landon to the home plate area. He was going to throw out the first pitch.
Landon was a bit worried since he hadn't thrown a baseball since the accident. He went to the mound, looked over at his dad standing near the dugout and received an affirmative smile. Those in the crowd of about 4,000 settled into their seats, watching the Myakka City 9-year-old on the mound, and urging him on.
Once again, Landon was a baseball player. He rocked back and threw a strike to the Marauders' mascot. He posed for a few more photos, then went to his parents.
"He said to me, 'I didn't think I could throw it that far,'" Daryl said.
Dad and mom knew better.
"This was breathtaking," Nickie said. "I cried to Katie (Fritz). I don't know how I can thank (the Marauders) for this."