For three years, Bryan Richardson lived with the knowledge that deep inside his brain, arteries had tangled to form an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM). These arteries created a very high risk of hemorrhage, which can result in brain damage or death.
After consulting a cadre of doctors, Bryan and his parents, Jeff and Sharon, chose a radiation treatment over a risky surgery.
Despite the worry of the “time bomb in his head,” for three years, Bryan embraced life. “We only have one chance to lead a life with purpose,” he wrote in a college admissions essay. “For me, this means enjoying my life, helping others, and experiencing new things.”
On what would have been his first day at the University of Denver, Bryan was blocks away from campus in a therapy session at Craig Hospital. His AVM had ruptured six months earlier on March 13, a few days after being told that it had shrunk enough to make him a candidate for surgery.
“Bryan knew about his condition and what could happen,” says Jeff. “Unfortunately it did happen, so now we have to accept it and redefine our lives, forging a different path than what we had previously planned.”
Before coming to Craig, Bryan and his family spent more than three months in an acute care hospital in Portland. While he received excellent care, the Richardsons felt alone. “There was no one there in our situation who could help us know what to do next”
Within hours of arriving at Craig, the Richardsons knew they were no longer alone.
“The entire hospital is filled with families whose lives were also turned upside down,” says Jeff. “We have met many of these families and have shared our stories of simultaneously dealing with hope and unimaginable stress.”
As Jeff and Sharon discussed Bryan’s post-Craig life, they became aware of the various challenges that families must face when bringing their loved one home.
“I started digging into it, and it’s so stressful to think about,” says Jeff. “How do you bathe them? How do you transport them? How will you get them in and out of the home?”
After discussions with the Craig CEO and the Craig Foundation, Jeff and Sharon decided to create the Bryan Richardson Going Home Fund. The fund will provide financial assistance to help families meet needs relating to their family member’s return home. The fund could cover equipment, home modifications, or other transitional expenses.
“Although it is overwhelming, Sharon and I are fortunate to have the resources to deal with everything,” says Jeff. “Most families do not have these same resources and we have seen the stress and anxiety that others have experienced with this “going home” process.”
The couple is soliciting donations from their family and friends and will match gifts up to $100,000. They hope to far exceed their fundraising goal.
Bryan is excited about the way his family is stepping up to help others like him. Even though he is currently non-verbal, he responded with a “firm eye blink” when his parents told him of their plans.
“Bryan gets his determination from me and his big heart from his mom,” quips Jeff.
The family plans to remain at Craig for another one to three months, and are exploring their options for the next step before returning home to Portland.
“Life will go on but the path is different now,” says Jeff. “It’s not worse, just different.”
To make a gift to the Going Home Fund, visit craighospital.org/foundation/goinghomefund.