Crackling and showers of colors made every Fourth of July a memorable evening growing up, but one fourth, more than the fireworks cracked. It took seven years before I found out what happened that night.

July 4, 2007, was another hot holiday as my parents and I fired up the grill for hot dogs and sliced up watermelon. While we didn’t do much throughout the day because of the heat, I always waited in anticipation for the sun to set.

To make the day go faster, I would throw poppers and run through smoke bombs when I wasn’t helping my mom in the kitchen. At the sound of nearby firecrackers, I knew the time was near. I would grab my fireworks and move them by the front door to make it quicker for me to grab the next ones to light.

As the evening continued and my pile of fireworks dwindled down, I knelt down in my flip flops to light a fountain. Suddenly I felt a warm sensation go through my left big toe and ball of my foot. As I walked back toward my mom to watch the foundation, I told her my toe felt really hot and it hurts. Assessing my footwear choice, we figured I stepped on a firework ember and continued to light the rest of the fountains. With none left and the evening getting late, it was time for bed. I washed my foot off trying to get the burning sensation to go away and then figured it would be gone when I woke up.

The next morning, I awoke around 9 a.m. and spun to sit on the side of my bed. As I began putting weight on my feet, the sharp pain in my left foot came back. Looking down, I remember calling for my mom. My big toe was black and blue and inflamed to double it’s normal size.

For the next seven years, I would have numerous X-rays, MRIs and therapies trying to figure out why my foot was swelling to the point it became stiff. As I began another year of college, I decided to visit a Fort Collins foot doctor. Waking up early one Saturday morning. I had another MRI done only this time, the technician inserted a foam pad under my toes to bend them up. A couple days later I went back to the doctor. As he put up the MRI scan on the board, there it was bright as day. My sesamoid cracked seven years ago and somehow I managed to play three more years of sports and stay active with a broken toe.

With the mystery solved, I prepared for surgery, which would cause me to be non-weight baring for two weeks. As I rolled around on a scooter, my mom, Becki and then boyfriend, Dylan took care of me. After a couple days being cooped up in the house, my dad, Sean decided to get the Corvette out for Dylan to take me on a drive around the neighborhood. Although Dylan’s experience driving a stick was minimal, I figured I could teach him in the same car my dad taught me. He had similar luck with the bucking bronco effect as we drove through intersections, but after a few minutes, he got the hang of it. After parking back in my parents’ driveway, Dylan carried me back into the house to save me the hassle of rolling my scooter through the rocks.

While the Fourth of July brings back many fond memories of dancing with sparklers and blowing up ant hills, it was also the day that resulted in a seven-year mystery.

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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at

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