Kapa’a paddler suffers back fracture

William “Ama” Valente-Gonsalves, 15, a multisport participant at Kapa’a High School, is in stable condition at The Queen’s Medical Center on O’ahu, after undergoing surgery Friday.

He fractured a cervical bone in his back, C-6, while getting ready for canoe-paddling practice Wednesday on the Wailua River, and was flown by air ambulance to O’ahu the same day, said Greg Gonsalves, Kapa’a High School athletic director.

Valente-Gonsalves, a sophomore who is not related to the athletic director, played football, was preparing for the Kaua’i Interscholastic Federation canoe-paddling season opener when the injury took place, and was preparing to once again turn out for the varsity baseball team at Kapa’a later this year, Gonsalves said.

His paddling and baseball seasons are likely over before they even began.

Gonsalves, who was on O’ahu yesterday and earlier in the week visited with the student and his mother at Queen’s, said surgery was scheduled for Friday, but he didn’t know the results of the procedure.

Here’s what he does know: “He’s a great kid and a fine asset to the athletic department and teams, and we’re hoping for the best for him.”

He requested that people “keep him in their thoughts and prayers,” and suggested those who wished to make donations to help cover his medical expenses and recovery efforts could be put in touch with his parents through the school, 821-4400.

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