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Dan Kiser Sr. helps prepare spaghetti sauce for one of the three meals served during the Sunday, June 22, 2014 benefit for his son, Dan “The King” Kiser, at The Venue at The Hub in south Fargo, N.D. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Injured MMA fighter progressing slowly but surely

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FARGO – Almost exactly a month ago, Dan Kiser Jr.’s family was told he wouldn’t make it through the night after he was critically injured in a mixed martial arts fight.

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Now featherweight champion “The King,” a 27-year-old father of two who lives in Milltown, Wis., is awake, talking and walking with the help of a nurse and a walker.

His father, Dan Kiser Sr. of Fargo, said his son’s plight has earned him a new nickname – “The Mini Miracle.”

Kiser Jr. suffered from a traumatic brain injury and collapsed wind pipe during his May 24 fight with Frankie Johnson in Detroit Lakes, Minn. He remains in the Sanford health care system, where he receives neurological, speech, physical and occupational therapy.

“His neurologist, who did the three brain surgeries, plus his trauma-care doctor, have told the family on three different occasions that he now has the nickname ‘The Mini Miracle’ because they believe they should be talking about my son in the past tense,” Kiser Sr. said.

He said Jr.’s physical condition and training have helped him get this far.

“I knew that they (his medical team) didn’t know my son like I know my son. He’s an athlete and a fighter, and I knew that if anybody in this world could pull through this, it’d be him,” he said.

Kiser Sr. said his progress is slow but steady, and although he’s exceeded doctors’ expectations, it’s still unclear exactly how his quality of life will be affected.

His family and friends organized an all-day, all-night benefit Sunday at The Venue at The Hub in Fargo to help defray his medical costs. The MMA community and the Red River Valley and beyond came out in full force.

Midafternoon Sunday, the lower level of The Venue was filled with rows of donated silent auction items, the upper level with donated baked goods, and live music came from the main stage as Kiser Sr. readied for the night’s spaghetti dinner feed.

The benefit started with a pancake feed from 8 to 11 a.m., included a chili cook-off featuring 14 different competitors, and had three bands and a comedy show on tap for the night.

Chad Curle of Bismarck, owner of Impact Fighting Championships, said he was impressed with the outpouring of support but wasn’t surprised by it.

“I’m willing to do anything I can to help. Fortunately, there’s a whole bunch of people who feel exactly the same way,” he said.

Curle, who visits Kiser Jr. every weekend, said the champion’s biggest goal right now is to go home to his fiancé and two little girls.

“When I talked to him on Saturday, I told him, ‘This is just like any other fight you’ve gone into,’ ” he said.

A website to help “The King” and his family has also been set up at www.gofundme.com/dankiser with a goal of $25,000. As of Sunday evening, the site had raised $10,220.

 
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Meredith Holt
Meredith Holt is a Forum features reporter who writes a twice-monthly column on body image, weight loss (and gain), health and fitness. Her topics of interest include mental health, relationships and women's issues. She also does page design and copy editing, which she did for six years prior to joining the features staff in March 2012.
(701) 241-5590
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