The Hightower family has lived in the Duncan community for many years and when they needed help the most, the community said, “we are here.”
Mason Hightower, 24 and in the Master’s program at Oklahoma University, has undergone multiple surgeries and is looking at more in the future with a heart transplant.
Berkley Faulkner, best friend of Mason Hightower, said, “a week ago today, Mason came up here to the city because they suspected he had bacterial endocarditis, which is infection of the heart.”
Looking further into it, doctors found Mason had issues with his heart valves which would need immediate attention.
“They decided to do surgery on him,” Faulkner said. “Once they got in there and were doing surgery, the doctor described his heart as being riddled with infection and in his 40 years, he had never seen anything like it.”
Unable to adhere the new heart valve, the doctors continued to search for how they could help Mason.
“What we thought was normal — Mason was just sick, he had some infection going on — turned into a major heart surgery that failed and then another attempt the next day,” Faulkner said. “Just a series of events that put everyone’s faith to the test and has put Mason physically to the test.”
Today, Mason is a living, breathing miracle, according to Faulkner.
“The doctors have told his parents multiple times his prognosis is not good,” Faulkner said. “They were telling him they didn’t expect (Mason) to make it through the night and he had just continued to fight on.”
With a fighting spirit, Mason has conquered many odds against him.
“We believe with our whole heart that ultimately God’s Will will be done,” Faulkner said. “In that, people near and far have been praying for Mason. I mean praying constantly, staying in touch, reaching out.”
A group of Duncan Middle School students and staff gathered around a flag pole at the school Friday morning to lift Assistant Principal Tim Hightower, Mason Hightower and their family up in prayer and many others have asked family and friends what specifically they can pray for during this time.
“It’s been insane,” Faulkner said. “We have friends all over the county who have been shutting down their stores, who have been stopping in the middle of the street and pulling over and praying when asked to pray for Mason.”
She said more than raising money and more than anything else, the one thing the Hightower family wants is to bring more prayer to Mason.
“The number one thing (the Hightowers) want out there is that there is so much power in prayer,” Faulkner said.
Those who are from Duncan know who the Hightower family is and their kindness, according to Faulkner, which is why she helped start this fundraiser and band together the community with family and friends.
“It was not hard at all to get people to band behind them,” Faulkner said. “All I had to do was start reaching out to people — those people started reaching out to other people. We decided to start The Hightower Family fund, which is on Facebook. In two days, we raised over $20,000 — currently up to $24,000 — but that’s just solely so we can help them through these tough times by providing them with little things, such as food, or big things such as if Mason does get a heart transplant, the medications it takes to sustain him and keep him healthy. It’s just little and big things we’ve been trying to help out on.”
The amazement of how the community has banded tighter together to help the Hightower family has spoken to many.
“What an incredible story this is,” Faulkner said. “No matter what happens, Mason has reached so many people.”
It’s the coming together of the community and the prayers for Mason which has family and friends feeling loved.
“It’s been spectacular how our town's reacted,” Faulkner said. “One of our really good family friends, Nichole Hammond of First Bank and Trust, called my mom. She said forget the Visa cards, forget all that, I will open up a bank account just for the Hightowers. I will have debit cards to give to them. Within eight hours we had a full First Bank and Trust account ready to go, we had debit cards in their hand. Just small things like that all came together. The community has just been outstanding … Every time I’m around the family, they’ve just been so thankful.
“The family is just so — so grateful. All of his close friends are just so grateful too,” Faulkner said. “He’s a miracle.”
Along the lines of The Hightower Family fund, when Mason’s opportunity comes to get a heart transplant and the family needs to stay close to the hospital, the Kirkland family (Kristin, Kelly, Carly, Coby) have offered up their condo in Midtown in Oklahoma City as a place to stay for as long as they need it, according to Faulkner.
“That is such a blessing and so kind of the Kirkland’s,” Faulkner said. “They didn’t think twice about it.”
Faulkner said they are just continuing trying to raise money and support.
“This is about something bigger than all of us,” Faulkner said. “This is a true story of just unwavering faith. Our whole entire town has reached out and brought people from all over the country, thinking and praying for Mason. I have a peace knowing that he is so loved. Ultimately God’s in control of all of this, He has known from day one what’s going to happen and I just have faith and comfort knowing that.”
Mason, a former Duncan High School Demon who played baseball and football, had his jersey presented on the field in Noble during the game where Duncan won.
The Demons football team banded together to honor Mason as they carried out his jersey onto the field because “once a Demon, always a Demon.”
Duncan third-year head football coach JT Cobble said the presentation of the jersey was a good way to honor Mason.
“Just felt like that would be a good way to honor Mason. I didn’t coach him, but he’s a Demon and had a hand in the development of this football program,” Cobble said. “The kids that carried it out are close with (his brother) Chase Hightower. We wanted to let the Hightower's know we’re pulling for them.”
To donate through Facebook to the Hightower Family Fund, visit https://www.facebook.com/donate/986988128474697/?fundraiser_source=external_url.
Andy Morphew contributed to this story.