Comeback Athletes


February Comeback Athlete Mallory Landon

School: Pope High School
Grade: 11th
Sport: Soccer
Team: Pope Greyhounds, Concord Soccer
Injury/disorder: Apophysitis, torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), torn medial meniscus

  • Mallory started playing soccer at age 8 and made her high school varsity team as a freshman.
  • Dr. Michael Busch performed ACL reconstructions and meniscus repairs on both of Mallory’s knees.
  • Her physical therapist, Caroline Fabian, said she was excited every time she saw Mallory because she knew Mallory would work hard and was a pleasure to be around.
  • After she completed physical therapy, Mallory chose to continue working with her high school trainer, Kresta Bosley, to stay strong and healthy.
  • Mallory also excels in the classroom and has already started visiting colleges.

1 related videos

2016 February Comeback Athlete: Mallory LandonView

When she was in the 8th grade, Mallory thought apophysitis was the toughest thing she’d have to go through. Unfortunately, she suffered a left ACL and medial meniscus tear just months after recovering from her hip injury. Mallory persevered through nine months of rehab to return to soccer, when she suffered the same injury to her right knee just three months later. Prepared for the physical therapy and knowing what she had to do to get healthy, Mallory returned to soccer even quicker the second time around. She’s now a high school junior and is currently completing her second full season with the Pope Greyhounds.


January Comeback Athlete Matthew Leahy

School: Oak Grove Elementary School
Grade: 3rd
Sport: Baseball, basketball, soccer and swimming
Team: Druid Hills Youth Sports, Triumph Youth Soccer Association, Dynamo Swim Team
Injury/disorder: Legg-Calve-Perthes disease

  • Matthew has always been very active, participating in baseball, basketball, soccer and swimming.
  • An avid Georgia Tech fan, Matthew’s favorite football player is former Yellow Jacket wide receiver Calvin Johnson. 
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, or Perthes disease, is very rare, affecting 1 in 10,000 children a year. However, it is four times more likely to occur in boys than girls. 
  • Matthew’s treatment plan was extensive, including a core decompression surgery, six weeks in a half-body cast, 18 months on crutches, 20 months in leg braces and more than 40 physical therapy sessions over two years. 
  • Matthew was originally told he may never run again. Luckily, he found Dr. Schrader and is now back on the field and even faster than before.

1 related videos

2016 January Comeback Athlete: Matthew LeahyView

Matthew’s lingering hip pain after a soccer game was eventually diagnosed as Perthes disease. Facing the unknown of this rare disease, the Leahy family was relieved to meet Dr. Schrader, a renowned expert in Perthes who practiced in their hometown. A daunting two-year treatment plan would intimidate most, but 9-year-old Matthew took everything in stride, even describing his cast, braces, wheelchair and therapy as “fun.” His eternally positive attitude brought him back to doing what he loves most: playing sports.


December Comeback Athlete Evan Butler

SchoolRoswell High School
Grade: 9th
Sport: Ice hockey
Team: Atlanta Ice Bandits Hockey Club
Injury/disorder: Spinal cord injury

  • Evan began playing roller hockey at the age of 5. Once he was old enough, he switched to playing ice hockey and hasn't stopped since. 
  • His favorite team is the Chicago Blackhawks. Just like his favorite Blackhawks player, Patrick Kane, Evan plays right wing. 
  • What was supposed to be a three-day hospital stay for scoliosis correction surgery turned into a 54-day stay involving multiple surgeries and intensive rehabilitation. 
  • It wasn't until after Evan regained the ability to walk that his parents told him at one point it was thought he might never walk again.

1 related videos

2015 December Comeback Athlete: Evan ButlerView

Evan’s scoliosis correction surgery revealed a mass near his spinal cord that left him paralyzed from the waist down. Evan's family was told he might never walk again, and they began preparing for Evan to live his life in a wheelchair. With extensive rehab in the Children's Inpatient Rehabilitation Program, however, Evan was determined to reteach every muscle in his legs how to work again.

Technology-assisted therapy at the Children's Center for Advanced Technology and Robotic Rehabilitation helped Evan regain function in his legs and, more important, his independence. With persistence and support from his family and care team, he not only regained function and learned to walk again, he's been cleared to get back on the ice.


November Comeback Athlete Holland Carlton

School: Pace Academy
Grade: 9th
Sport: Volleyball, soccer
Team: Knights
Injury/disorder: Brain tumor

  • Holland is a triple athlete, participating in basketball, volleyball and soccer.
  • A CT scan after a concussion revealed a growing mass in her brain.
  • The surgery to remove the tumor took nine hours and two doctors to complete. After the procedure, she spent several weeks in the Inpatient Rehabilitation Program receiving physical and occupational therapy.

1 related videos

2015 November Comeback Athlete: Holland CarltonView

After a concussion landed Holland at the doctor’s office, a routine CT scan revealed the last thing she and her family expected—a brain tumor. In March 2015, Holland underwent a nine-hour surgery to remove the growth that was located very close on her brain to her movement and sensory centers. After the procedure, the young athlete had to relearn daily activities like how to tie her shoes and walk unassisted at the Children’s Inpatient Rehabilitation Program. She is now back on the field playing soccer, and this past spring she became a strong starter on the JV volleyball team after working her way up from second string in just a few short weeks.


October Comeback Athlete Clay Evans

School: Cornerstone Preparatory Academy
Grade: 9th
Sport: Football
Team: Cornerstone Cougars
Injury/disorder: Compound fracture to right arm, which included severed brachial artery and median nerve.

  • Clay started playing flag football in 3rd grade.
  • As a 9th grader, Clay has a starting position on the varsity football team.
  • Clay had five surgeries on his right arm to repair the compound fracture and severed brachial artery and median nerve after his accident.
  • Clay learned to use his left hand after the accident for daily tasks, but after physical therapy at Children’s, Clay can now use both hands interchangeably.

1 related videos

2015 October Comeback Athlete: Clay EvansView

Standing over 6-feet tall, Clay Evans was built to play football. After a serious accident left Clay with only partial use of his right arm, it took him two years to return to the field. With the help of his family, friends and love of football, Clay is now starting on the varsity football team as a freshman. 


September Comeback Athlete Jasmine Feraro

School: Saint Francis High School
Grade: 12th
Sport: Basketball and volleyball
Team: Saint Francis Knights
Injury/disorder: Torn Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL)

  • Jasmine has been playing basketball since 5th grade.
  • She’s torn her ACL three times—twice on her right knee, once on her left. Research shows that girls are 4 times more likely to tear an ACL than boys.
  • She’s a leader even when she’s not playing, inspiring her basketball team to win the 2015 Class A Championship.
  • Jasmine and her physical therapist, Colleen Crosby, have such a bond that they stayed in touch even after she finished rehabilitation.

1 related videos

2015 September Comeback Athlete: Jasmine FeraroView

It’s hard to come back from an injury once, let alone three times. But that’s just what Jasmine Feraro did—and basketball was her motivation. She persevered to get back on the court and her determination earned her the September Comeback Athlete title.


Nominate a Comeback Athlete

Each Story Ends the Same. Back on the Field.

Do you know a young athlete* who overcame an injury or illness to get back to the sport they love? Do you want to reward them for all the hard work they put in to their recovery? Nominate them for Comeback Athlete of the Month.

Read the contest rules

*Eligible athletes must have received treatment at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta [in any inpatient or outpatient area] before returning to their organized sport.