Friends band together to help young man overcome rare brain condition

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Wed, August 6 2014 at 6:20 PM, Updated: Wed, August 6 2014 at 7:57 PM

Medford, Ore. -- Three young men are hoping to make a difference in their friend's life. This week Mitch North, Euriel Cordoba and Cho Cho Sanchez put on a soccer camp for about 30 kids and raised almost $1000.

All the money is going toward physical therapy for their high school friend Matarr Hankey. In 2012, Hankey suffered from an arteriovenous malformation or AVM when he was 16-years-old. It caused bleeding inside his brain, making him unable to walk or speak.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, "A cerebral arteriovenous malformation is an abnormal connection between the arteries and veins in the brain that usually forms before birth."

It's unknown what exactly causes the condition that the NLM says occurs in less than 1% of people.

How it happened to Hankey

Hankey said the day it happened began just like any other day.

"I went to school and everything was fine. Then I went skating with my best friend... then we went to the rock climbing gym. Then he took me home because I had a headache," said Hankey.

According to Hankey, he didn't fall while he was skateboarding. He said he doesn't like it when people think he hit his head.

When he got home, he took a nap and didn't wake up for six weeks.

Leading up to that day, Hankey said he had been getting bad migraines that would sometimes force him to leave school.

Two years later and getting better

While Hankey can now speak and has more control of his arms, he is not yet fully recovered. The money raised through his friends' soccer camp is a big help for Hankey who said insurance doesn't cover physical therapy.

"I'm stoked and really thankful," said Hankey.

"I'm surprised he [North] did it. It was out of nowhere when he told me," he continued.

"We just wanted to do something that we had a passion for and then just to help someone in need. Matt's someone that we care about a lot," said North.

According to North, a number of weeks ago he had a dream about Hankey and couldn't go back to sleep until he figured out a way to help.

"I don't really know of any great ways to make money, but I know there's a lot of kids in the valley that can use help with soccer and I know that's a gift I have," North said.

Hankey hopes to get hyperbaric oxygen therapy

Hankey said he's only had two weeks of physical therapy in over a year. He does it at home on his own with his mom. However, Hankey said it's not enough. That's why he's trying to go to Sara's Garden in Ohio. It's a non-profit organization with special treatments available like an oxygen-rich hyperbaric chamber that could help restore brain function.

"Studies show it helps metabolic damage in the brain," said Hankey.

"I hope I can get more independent at least be able to dress myself and improve my speech," he said.

The treatments will likely cost thousands of dollars, so the money raised is a big help for Hankey. He's trying to raise as much money as he can because he's unsure of exactly how much it will cost. But Hankey said it's about $7000 for one month of therapy at Sara's Garden.

Now with the money his friends raised, Hankey is now a little step closer to the therapy that could make all the difference.

How you can help Matt Hankey

If you would like to help visit Matt Hankey's page created to help him raise money for his physical therapy:

http://sarasgarden.org/matarrhankey/

Hankey said he's also collecting recyclable aluminum cans. E-mail  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to donate any cans.

Hankey is still part of the skate team at Jacks Board House in Medford where there are bracelets with Hankey's name for sale. All proceeds go to help Hankey's recovery.

There are also plans in the works to put on another soccer camp to benefit Hankey. For more information e-mail Mitch North at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Copyright KOBI-TV. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without written permission.

What do you think? Sound off on our Facebook page and on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

Connect with Christine

Leave a Comment:

Note: Comments with profanity are automatically filtered and hidden. Verbal attacks towards others via our comments section will not be tolerated.