With all the fanfare of a hero returning from war, Boone Bartlome’s return to Kuna after his injury in November and 12 weeks in a Denver rehabilitation hospital brought out the community to welcome him home.
Organizers had spread the word through Facebook and social media but warned everyone to not tell Boone that something big was planned. It was clear, though, that Boone knew something was up.
While everyone waited, Coach Lee Leslie, who has been acting as one of the spokesmen during the last several months for the family, took to the bleachers overlooking the waiting crowd. He introduced Chris Wyatt, the EMT who took Boone to the hospital on that November night at the playoff game where Boone was injured. Then Coach brought up some of the others that the community has come together for in times of grief and need.
He introduced Daniel Cook’s father, who thanked the community for their support in what
has become a difficult fall and winter for Kuna families. Daniel Cook was killed in a bus crash
Coach Leslie talked about Elija Minnick’s scary hospital episode in December where he was in a coma for just over 20 days. Leslie brought it all back together and said that this celebration was to welcome Boone home and remind each other that the community comes together for their own.
As the police and fire trucks, sirens blaring and lights flashing, escorted Boone’s caravan down Meridian Road, turning on to Deer Flat and making its way to the high school football stadium, everyone parted to make room for the cars bringing their hero home.
Every Treasure Valley television station had cameras going and their live actions trucks on scene. Radio stations had their commentators and flashy vans. Area newspapers (including the Kuna Melba News) had photographers and reporters on scene. The entire high school was out in force. Parents, business and government
leaders and numerous others were there to line the small path as Boone drove up, freshly arrived from the Boise airport.
Despite the drizzly rain, nearly 500 people held balloons that they released as he drove up.
He said to reporters, “I don’t even know how it got so big I always joke with my parents I am just a guy that broke his neck, turned into the biggest star in the valley.”
His best friend, Zeke, ran
to his house and got Boone’s dog, a yellow lab, to help welcome