Dayton baseball coach Mike Abbate’s latest visit to Kessler to see the progress infielder Adam Wuest is making left him with nothing but positive things to say.
“He’s doing a lot better and is now up on a walker,” said Abbate, moments after his Monday, July 17 excursion to West Orange. “He’s able to balance himself and is in good spirits.”
Five weeks ago Wuest, one of the top baseball players from the Valley Division of the Union County Conference this past season, had to have emergency surgery to remove an unexpected hematoma (blood clot) on his spinal cord.
The hematoma was successfully removed, but the clot caused significant pressure on Wuest’s spinal cord. As a result, Wuest – who will be a senior at Dayton High School in Springfield in the fall – has had limited feeling and movement below his chest.
Following a six-day stint at Overlook Hospital, Wuest was moved to The Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation in West Orange on June 16.
Wuest has now been there for a month and is showing continued signs of progress according to Abbate, the head baseball coach at Dayton since 2010.
“He took a step upstairs and a couple of steps,” Abbate said. “He’s progressing better in his fourth week.
“He’s been able to use his hands with a nerf ball and I even brought his glove up to him.
“There’s not a lot of strength there yet, but he’s been able to wiggle his toes and bring his knees up. There’s feeling in both legs.”
Wuest’s parents reported last week that Adam continues to have two therapy sessions daily and his hard work has been paying off. They said he is getting more movement in both of his feet and can now move his toes on his left foot. The movement and feeling on his left side have been slower to return than his right, but there are positive signs of progress.
“The progress he has made so far is a tribute to him,” Abbate continued Monday. “He’s working a lot, he pushes a lot and the nurses all love him. All signs have been very good and it hasn’t even been six weeks yet.”
Wuest drove in Dayton’s first run of the season when he smashed an RBI-single to left field in the top of a six-run second inning during Dayton’s 11-0 season-opening win vs. Brearley at Black Brook Park in Kenilworth back on April 3.
Batting leadoff and playing superbly in the field at shortstop, Wuest helped lead the Bulldogs to a 18-6 overall record and second place finish in the UCC’s Valley Division at 8-2.
Dayton also went on to – as the No. 1 seed – reach another North 2, Group 1 state championship game.
Wuest was instrumental in Dayton getting the necessary power points to achieve the No. 1 seed ahead of Valley Division champion Roselle Park. In Dayton’s 11-10 win at Roselle Park on May 9, Wuest entered the game in relief and pitched well enough to hold down the Panthers.
“He really came through for us in a huge situation there,” Abbate said.
Wuest paced Dayton in walks with 15, stolen bases with 16 and runs with 32. Beginning the season at second base and finishing it at shortstop, Wuest committed only four errors.
“He was very steady for us,” Abbate said.
Wuest played on the junior varsity team his freshman and sophomore seasons. As a pitcher and shortstop and second baseman he helped lead Dayton’s 2016 JV team to its Union County Tournament semifinals.
Wuest is also a standout ice hockey player for the Bulldogs.
A GoFundMe account was created for Wuest’s recovery to support Adam and his family with any upcoming medical expenses. Any monies donated that were not needed for medical expenses were donated to the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralaysis in Adam’s name.
Last week the fund reached its goal of $25,000 with more than 270 people donating within a span of just 25 days.
“The response from the community has just been amazing to see,” Abbate said. “So far Adam continues to progress nicely and is working very hard to keep on doing so.”