Maikon Bonani, USF’s starting kicker who is out for the season after being injured in a 35-foot fall last month, made his first appearance at practice since the accident. Bonani talks about the accident, and his support for good friend Delbert Alvarado, and more.
It was a hot day for the Bulls morning practice session, but one visitor at the practice didn’t mind the heat one bit. Maikon Bonani, USF’s starting kicker who was injured in a 35-foot fall while working his job at Bush Gardens made his first appearance at practice since the accident.
“I feel good, and it feels great to be out sweating again, but just seeing my teammates is the best part of being out here,” said Bonani. “I’m kind of sad that I’m not out here playing, really sad and disappointed, but I truly believe that things happen for a reason, so I can’t really be to down about it.”
Bonani was injured over three weeks ago said things have been going well since the bizarre accident and he’s been spending his time recovering.
“Things are going great, after I got back from the hospital I’ve been home spending time with my family. All I’ve been doing really is just eating, to be honest, just eating and watching TV.”
Bonani was injured while working the Sky ride at Busch Gardens when he fell from a gondola 35 feet after he held on to lock the door to keep the riders safe. After the fall Bonani cracked his T-12 vertebra and remembers it vividly.
“It was an instinct moment, and at the time I felt like I had to do that, and hang on and help somebody. Once it clamped on the rope I didn’t want to go up, but my adrenaline was going on. I thought about hanging on for the 2 and a half minutes, but it was just going to keep getting higher and I didn’t want to take a chance of falling on someone or the hard concrete. The first couple of feet are rocks and I didn’t want to fall there. Then came the small landscaped area and I thought that be the best place.”
Many people wondered why Bonani didn’t pull himself up into the gondola and he said he had the opportunity but never tried to
“I thought about it, but I didn’t want to take the chance. In case the ride didn’t stop and it would only get higher and I didn’t want to jeopardize the passengers. I was hanging on the lower rail so it’s pretty far down, and once your arm is extended it’s pretty hard to pull yourself up, especially when you’re only hanging by one arm.”
It could have been much worse.
“I was fortunate first of all not to be not to be paralyzed, and not to need surgery. The doctors said I just have to wear a brace for three months to keep my back straight.”
Bonani said he’s not in any pain, that has gone away and the back seems to be healing, but does have a little soreness in his back muscles from movement, and a little discomfort, and a little bored.
“Nothing is too hard to do, but I don’t do much and sleeping is kind of tough and I haven’t been sleeping too much because it’s uncomfortable, but I lie down all day, so I’m not too tired at night.”
Being back on the field watch his teammates is the best medicine.
“You don’t understand, it’s an unbelievable feeling to be out here, and much better than seeing the four walls in my bedroom, said Bonani. “It’s great to see the guys working hard. I’m part of the team weather I’m here or not. I feel like maybe I can’t contribute on the field but I’ll do everything I can to support my teammates through the season. It feels great to be part of my family again.”
Maikon said after the accident everybody was all great, a lot came by the hospital, and a lot of people called and sent cards. “I really felt loved.”
Maikon is very good friends with Bulls kicker Delbert Alvarado, who’s in line to take over as both punter and kicker this season, and he’s doing what he can to support him.
“You got that straight about us being great friends, we’ve been friends since the beginning, since my visit actually. So I try and keep him motivated. If he has a good day then fine, but if struggles because he’s got a lot on his plate, than I’m there for him. I tell him to keep his head up, and I know he’s capable and I have complete trust in him. There’s support by just being friends, there’s no football term for it, but friendship keeps you strong.”
Bonani believes that everything happens for a reason and in a strange way this unfortunate accident could be a blessing for his very good friend.
“When it happed he came by the hospital the first day, and we didn’t know what the extent of the injury was. So I told him if I can’t play you got to do it, the job is yours. Everything happens for a reason, and I believe that it’s his senior year and me being hurt is an opening and a blessing for him so he can do well and pursue his career on the next level.”
“I support him by telling him to just have fun, football is about having fun. We got here by having fun in high school. Hard work is a key but if you have fun you’ll get to the next level.”
“It’s eye opening for me. One day you’re kicking and the next you could be paralyzed. I’m very blessed. It’s unfortunate but everything happens for a reason, and I’ll be back, hopefully stronger and better than last year.”