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This fundraiser ended on 01/12/13

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A local hero needs your help at a chance for a new life, a new self-image, and a brighter, healthier future. Please help!

If you have ever called 911 for an emergency, you may have met my friend, Brett. As a volunteer firefighter with the St. Elmo-Irvington Volunteer Fire Department, an EMT, and ambulance driver over the past 13 years, Brett has always given generously to help his community. Tragically, Brett’s first call as a volunteer firefighter was every First Responder’s worst nightmare—imagine yourself arriving on the scene of an horrific accident to render emergency aid to the victims, only to discover the victims are your own family members who have been seriously injured!  Despite being just 18, he remained calm and supported his family as his Grandmother was airlifted to USAMC with a catastrophic brain injury. That traumatic event didn’t deter Brett; in fact, it inspired him to do more.


Something got in the way of his being able to do all that he wanted to do to help others. Since childhood, Brett struggled with obesity. At his peak weight, Brett tipped the scales at 601 pounds. Imagine the challenge of completing rigorous firefighter training while weighing over 500 pounds. Motivated by his determination to help others, Brett succeeded. However, while he was working to save others’ lives, his physician warned him that his own life was endangered by his morbid obesity and he would likely not make it to the age of 40.  In October 2009, at the urging of his doctors, family and friends, Brett finally did something for himself and underwent gastric bypass surgery.


Although the obese are often stereotyped as being lazy or having given up on life, nothing could have been further from the truth for Brett. He worked several jobs, often simultaneously, and provided care and support for his parents. He worked as a Master Control board operator for a local television station and a DJ for several local radio stations. Whatever challenges he faced in his life, Brett always made time to help others, both formally as a volunteer firefighter and in “little” ways that are often overlooked, such as growing his hair to 18” to donate to Locks of Love.


Brett’s hard work and determination proved a real asset after his surgery. For months he was faced with severe pain and survived on a mostly liquid diet. The weight started coming off and by August of 2012, Brett had undergone a miraculous transformation, going from 601 to 295 pounds. Two years after the surgery, however, his weight loss began to plateau and new problems developed. The skin that remained after his massive weight loss caused new health issues, including back pain, constant rashes, and chronic infections. Despite having lost over 300 pounds, it is still difficult for him to exercise properly or engage in routine activities due to the problems and the pain caused by excess skin.


Now Brett is ready to take the next step in his transformation and, this time he needs our help. He needs surgery to remove excess skin and allow free movement. Unfortunately, insurance coverage is limited to one operation for this procedure. In addition to a large, advance co-pay, Brett will need several weeks’ recovery to complete the first phase of his transformation, during which time he will be unable to work.  He will need an estimated 4 additional surgeries to remove all the excess skin, none of which are covered by insurance.


At the age of 30 years, Brett has generously used his resources to help others. As a skilled EMT and firefighter, a bright and talented musician, and a comedian, Brett has much more to give. Please help Brett realize his dream by contributing whatever you can for his surgery and recovery. There is no doubt we will all benefit from the good things this wonderful young man will give back.

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