A huge burden rests on a hockey goalie’s shoulders. And that’s just the way that 16-year-old Bryan likes it.
Last year, Bryan’s team won all but one league game and went on to play in the North American Championships. As goalie, Bryan was instrumental in the team’s success, blocking countless shots and leading several shutouts.
Seeing this vibrant young hockey player on the ice, it’s hard to believe that he has been battling cystic fibrosis his entire life.
Despite his disease, Bryan has never been one to sit on the sidelines.
“My goal is to be the first person with cystic fibrosis to play in the Olympics,” says Bryan.
Earning a shot at that dream takes practice – 10 hours a week in the season, five in the off-season. And it requires an unwavering commitment to an extensive treatment regimen for his cystic fibrosis. Every day, Bryan takes 50+ pills and undergoes two physical treatments to shake excess mucus loose from his lungs.
“I’ve been doing my treatments every day of my life, so for me it’s just one of those things that are normal,” he says.
Bryan receives care at the renowned Mike McMorris Cystic Fibrosis Research and Care Center at Children’s Hospital Colorado. But even with the best care and treatment, Bryan faces an uphill battle with cystic fibrosis. The genetic disease causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and other organs, leading to infection and other complications.
“It feels like I’m breathing through a straw,” explains Bryan.
Hope in new research
Bryan’s disease makes him particularly susceptible to illness. Last year, he missed four weeks of school and was hospitalized at Children’s Colorado twice due to respiratory infections. He continues to pursue his dream of playing hockey, but it always takes time to rebuild his stamina following an illness.
Today, Bryan’s family is putting new hope into ground-breaking research that’s taking place at Children’s Colorado. Since Bryan was born, the life expectancy for a person with cystic fibrosis has already improved from 26 years to 37 years – but for Bryan’s father, Steve, that still isn’t good enough.
“He is my definition of courage,” says Steve. “He is an incredible human being filled with drive, passion, compassion and dreams. Our lives revolve around keeping him healthy and his dreams alive.”