Chestermere, AB – Kids playing hockey outside on a fresh winter day is a familiar sight in Chestermere. What few realize is that one of the local kids out on the ice is a courageous young man fighting a battle with epilepsy.
Bradley Bruce, a 14 year old youth in Chestermere, was born with a brain tumour that caused seizures even before his birth. When he was just four months old, doctors removed the tumour but took almost a quarter of his brain. The surgery left him paralyzed on his left side with an uncertain future.
“Bradley is our miracle child” said Valerie Bruce, his mother and a well known employee at the local Tim Hortons. “The doctors weren’t sure if he would ever walk or talk but today he goes out to play hockey with his brothers, has a job, goes to school and is a positive, outgoing and loving kid.”
While the tumour was successfully removed and Bradley was able to regain almost 60% of the use of the left side of his body, Bradley still suffered from occasional seizures as a child. When the seizures stopped four years ago Bradley’s parents were relieved.
However, this past May, Bradley’s seizures returned with intensity. Even with increased medication, Bradley has been having more frequent seizures that can last from 8-20 minutes long. As his family is unsure how long his seizures will last and how it could affect his breathing, they often call 9-1-1 to ensure more medical support is available.
Firefighters are often the first to respond and assist the family while they wait for paramedics. Following visits to the Bruce home over the past few months, Chestermere firefighters decided that they wanted to contribute the proceeds from their annual charity hockey game to Bradley and his family.
“We wanted somebody in the community to play for” said Senior Firefighter Mark Romaniuk. “We saw all the trouble they were going through so we figured why not choose them to help raise awareness about the disease he has? We want them as a family to know that we will always be there for them if we are needed.”
The charity hockey game is a key component of the Town’s annual Winterfest. Each year, admission to the game is a donation to the local foodbank and all the proceeds from the raffle go to help a family chosen by the hockey team made up of members from the local fire department and RCMP detachment.
Valerie explained that Bradley is currently undergoing testing to determine if brain surgery would help to reduce his seizures and the money the family receives will go towards helping Bradley and his family through the surgery and recovery. If surgery is not possible, she said the money will go to help Bradley to continue to improve in other ways (potentially with special tutoring and therapy) and the remainder will be donated to the neurology department at the Children’s Hospital.
In the meantime, Valerie said that Bradley is thrilled to be chosen as the recipient of the hockey game donations this year and can’t wait to drop the puck and feel like part of the team especially because of his great love of hockey.
Valerie said she is touched by the fact the hockey players are playing to help raise awareness in the community about epilepsy and to help with the treatment and recovery of Brad’s possible brain surgery but she is especially excited “to see Brad smile from ear to ear because he gets to be a big part of a hockey game.”
The Chestermere Winterfest Charity Hockey Game takes place January 19, 2013 at 2:00pm. Information and a schedule of events for Winterfest are available at www.chestermere.ca/winterfest.