It’s been about two months since Josh Haddock underwent brain surgery after collapsing during an Aug. 25 football practice.
The North Forsyth High School senior returned to school Oct. 18. Since then, he’s started driving again, caught up with all his schoolwork and has been lifting weights three hours a day to build up his strength and stamina.
“He’s really trying to make things normal again,” said his mom, Natalie Roth. “He’s not playing football, but he goes to practice. He’s like an honorary coach. He’s there with the team encouraging them.”
Haddock has been heavily supported by teammates and the community since the incident. His bravery has also garnered him attention from local civic groups like the Forsyth-Cumming Optimist Club.
Roger Dunn, club board member, was so impressed with Haddock’s story that he invited the 17-year-old to a meeting Thursday to present him with the Youth of the Month award.
The title also comes with a $50 savings bond.
“[Haddock] said instead of a bond for me, I would like to donate my money to the Forsyth County Humane Society,” Dunn said. “Our club has been in existence for 30 years or more … and we have never had a young man who gave up his savings bond for a charity.
“To me, that said ‘wow.’ Here’s a man who went through a lot, had to be operated on and the whole nine yards, and to give up his bond to charity — that’s a true optimist right there.”
Haddock and Roth attended the Optimist meeting Thursday morning, handing over the donation to Jill Gooch of the Humane Society.
Roth said she wasn’t surprised by her son’s decision.
“He’s the same kid who gave up his school clothes money to help someone who needed school clothes worse than him,” Roth said.
“That’s what Josh does. It’s probably one of the reasons people love him.”
While he likely won’t play football again this year, Haddock is working hard to get ready for lacrosse in February.
“Call me crazy, but I’m really not [worried],” said Roth of her son returning to sports.
Roth recalled her son’s incident, when after a day or two of headaches, he sought the help of athletic trainer Katie Caughell before collapsing. Caughell went into action on Haddock, who was suffering a subdural hematoma, or bleeding from the outside lining of the brain.
Roth said she’s now aware of the symptoms, and while “he’s not at any higher risk now than anyone else on the team,” she is confident knowing the signs to look for is the key to preventing a future incident.
“This was just a crazy, crazy accident,” she said.