Many Minnesotans will need to bring lawnmowers back out soon, but young boy who was injured by one as a toddler says he wants to make sure everyone does so safely.
Carter Dilly loves basketball and dreams of being in the NBA, but the 8-year-old has challenges when it comes to his left leg.
"It hurts a lot when I run too much and walk too much," he explained.
When he was 2 years old, Dilly was sitting on his brother's lap on a riding lawnmower when he fell off and the machine ran over his leg.
"The lawnmower blade went through here and severed the inside of his ankle joint," Dr. Mark Dahl explained.
The accident cost Dilly his big toe, and the blades also damaged his growth plate. He's undergone numerous surgeries to repair the damage, putting in screws to push his foot back into place.
"They cut open my foot and put all these in there," Dilly recalled, displaying the screws for FOX 9.
Six years later, Dilly continues to see Dahl at Gilette Children's Hospital. His left leg no longer grows, and by the time he reaches his full height, it will be 3 inches shorter than his right leg. Eventually, Dahl will have to lengthen Dilly's tibia.
"It's a horrific injury because it lasts a lifetime," Dahl said. "No matter what we do, we cannot restore the leg to what it was before it was injured."
It can happen in an instant, but the pain can last a lifetime -- even for those who weren't hurt themselves but still feel they could have prevented it.
"There was a lot of guilt and it shouldn't have happened," Dilly's mother, Jessie, told FOX 9.
Lawnmower injuries are more common than many might think. That's why Dilly and his mother, Jessie Dilly, are speaking out in the hopes that they can prevent another accident.
"They are not secure," Jessie Dilly said. "Keep [children] away from lawnmowers, keep them inside. They are not a toy."
Nationwide, there are 200,000 lawnmower injuries a year, and 16,000 affect children. Of those accidents, about 3,000 result in amputations.
"Lawnmower injuries in children are completely preventable," Dahl said. "It's one of the rare injuries we can completely prevent."
Carter Dilly and Dahl say the solution is to keep kids off mowers and indoors when grass is getting a trim.
"You shouldn't do it around a kid when he's outside," Carter Dilly said. "Tell him, 'I'm going to mow the lawn, so you might want to go inside so I don't hurt you.'"
The American Academy of Pediatrics and Orthopedic Surgeons recommends keeping kids from operating any gas lawnmower until they are 12, and they say children should be 16 or older before using a riding mower.