A 15-year-old Indiana boy who passed away after a social media challenge that “went horribly wrong,” was given a touching tribute by hospital staff and his family as he was escorted to surgery to donate his organs.
Mason Bogard, of Evansville, was critically injured earlier this month after attempting what is known as “the choking challenge,” his family said.
“The challenge is based on the idea that you choke yourself to the point of almost passing out and then stop,” his mother Joann Jackson Bogard wrote on Facebook soon after the incident. “It's supposed to create a type of high. Unfortunately, it has taken the lives of many young people too early and it will take our precious Mason.”
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Hospital staff worked for days to save Mason, but were unable to bring him back, his mother wrote.
Last week, the teen was taken into surgery to donate his organs, a procedure that would ultimately save multiple lives.
“Our hero saved 5 lives!” his mother wrote Tuesday, along with a video showing his “honor walk” at Deaconess Hospital.
The video showed dozens of hospital workers in uniform and supporters wearing #MasonsMessage shirts lining the halls as Mason is wheeled in a hospital bed to an elevator.
The video has been seen hundreds of thousands of times since it was posted.
In the days following his death, Joann Jackson Bogard took to social media to clarify “what exactly the message is that we are conveying.”
“Choking someone else until they pass out, or choking yourself until you almost pass out, has been around for decades,” she wrote. “But the internet provides youth with a new medium to actually watch others do it and then wake up and laugh about it. To a younger person it seems fun, funny, a dare, a way to get others to laugh. If someone who is young (with a brain not developed enough to think through all of the consequences of their actions, and whose brain is still impulsive) watches 99 videos of someone doing a challenge (a dare) without a negative consequence, they are more likely to try it too. The problem isn't that they hear about a challenge or see a video...the problem is the AMOUNT that they are exposed to...and the types of things that they see and hear online.”
She urged parents to watch over their kids.
“#MasonsMessage is for us as a community to watch over our kids. It takes a village to raise a child,” she wrote. “If you hear of someone else's child watching or trying something dangerous, tell the parent. #MasonsMessage is to find a way to keep children from having such easy access to these things. #MasonsMessage is to teach parents and mentors how to talk to their children about the dangerous things that are so easily accessible to our children. For some that might be conversations at dinner, for others it may need to be more direct. #MasonsMessage is that if you are young and think that it is okay to try something because so many other kids try it....some seemingly innocent things can obviously go horribly wrong. Together, as a community, we can find a way to make a change.”
Mason was laid to rest Friday. That evening, supporters lit up the skies with a fireworks tribute to the teen.