Northland Strong: Mason Branstrator

Northland adaptive recreation (formally known as Courage Kenny) has been a staple in our region for many years. Providing recreational opportunities and changing lives for those with disabilities. For one young man this organization has helped him rebuild after he was involved in a ski accident on January 18th, 2021.

Mason Branstrator a teen from Duluth went skiing and the day would change his life forever.

“I showed up and got all ready and got my stuff on top of the hill and prepared to go down a run, I’ve done maybe a hundred, maybe a thousand timed. I was going off the jump and as I was nearing the end of it I thought to myself, I going a little bit fast and that’s the last thing I remember before waking up in the ICU.”

Mason says he woke up and couldn’t feel his legs, then the doctors filled him in on what really happened.

“The doctors said I went off the jump and, in the air, flipped upside down and flew about 20ft past where I should have been. I landed on my shoulders and head and from the impact it ended up shattering my spine @T12 rendering me a paraplegic.”

For ten months between Mason’s hometown here in Duluth and 2nd home in Denver, Colorado. He put in the hard work and time rehabilitating himself getting stronger everyday physically and mentally.

“There are constant challenges and obstacles that I must face and the thing that kept me going is realizing that I need to keep moving forward no matter what’s happening, just keep moving forward,” said Mason.

That’s when the Northland adaptive program stepped in and gave Mason a piece of himself, he had been missing. They loaned mason a piece of equipment that allows wheelchair users to run.

Mason says, “With that piece of equipment I was able to do my first triathlon, and, on that day, it was the best day of my life since my accident. I just felt like everything was complete and Northland Adaptive was a huge part in making that come true. They have been so important in getting back to the life that I want to live. It created community for me as well, now all these people in similar situations, reached out and that is my favorite thing ever is to talk to someone in a similar situation as me.”

Mason has since put his story on Facebook and Instagram and has received thousands of followers. He just started college this past week at the university of Denver in Colorado. The annual shoot for fun fundraiser is this weekend at old lake vermilion trail. You can donate online at