Community rallies in face of tragedy to help paralyzed teen Peter Brady
After finishing his freshman year at University of Pittsburgh, the Orchard Park native returned home with plans to spend summer reuniting with friends and playing drums in the well-known local blues band, 4in Tune. But an accident on Memorial Day cost him his summer and nearly his life.
“I dove wrong into my friend’s pool,” said Brady. He remembers hearing a strange noise emanate from his spine as he hit the pool’s bottom. “I thought, ‘What have I done to myself?’ I knew I was in trouble.”
Brady had broken his neck in three places and injured his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down. He was rushed to ECMC’s Intensive Care Unit, where he spent a month and underwent major surgeries. The once athletic 19-year-old required a ventilator to assist in breathing.
But a tragedy that would have made most despair has left Brady with a renewed appreciation for all he has in life.
“In a way, it’s a blessing. I saw my parents more this summer than I have in the past three summers. It brought my family together,” said Brady. “I have connected with so many people here. The nurses and doctors – I always have someone to joke with.”
He is especially grateful for the quality of care ECMC has provided. “The nurses and doctors do an unbelievable job keeping my spirits up,” he said. “I have gotten to know them so well, they have essentially become my family.”
He is pleased that his feeding tube has recently been removed and said the he may soon no longer require a ventilator. Having regained some movement in his back, shoulders and arms, Brady was recently fitted for a motorized wheelchair that he will be able to manipulate with a joystick-like device.
“I am making a ton of progress. It’s not a giant leap but it’s nice to be taking all these little steps,” he said.
Brady’s friends, family and community will hold a fundraiser on Sunday, Aug. 12 from 1 to 9 p.m. at Wings Flights of Hope, 3964 California Road in Orchard Park. The benefit, “For Pete’s Sake Blues Festival and Healing Fundraiser,” will help cover hospital bills and the cost of refurbishing Brady’s home to accommodate his medical needs.
Brady’s band, 4in Tune, reached out to the Western New York Blues community to seek performers for the event. Music will be provided by local greats such as Willie Mays Band, Jony James Band, Blues Hounds, Wille Haddath Band, Rabbit Foot Blues Band, Pro Jam and of course, 4in Tune themselves.
“We will keep the band alive so that Peter has something to listen to as he recovers,” said Evan Laedke, of Eden, who is lead vocalist and keyboardist for the band. Though seeing his friend in the hospital was an emotional experience for Evan, his spirits were bolstered by Brady’s positive outlook.
“Everyone is looking on the bright side. He is still the same old Peter, he’s still making jokes.”
“Peter is a such a driving force, both in the band and through his personality,” said Evan’s father, Chuck Laedke, who serves on the committee for Brady’s fundraiser.
He said that the event will also feature a dance floor, beer, pop, food, a 50/50 split club, baskets and raffles for $25 per ticket. A cash bar will also be available.
“We have enough food to feed over 1,000 people,” said Chuck, who added the cause has already received an outpouring of support.
“The community’s response, their generosity, it’s baffling to me,” said Brady. “The Blues community opened their arms to me. They are playing without pay, and as a musician I know that’s a task.”
Other major contributors to the fundraiser include but are certainly not limited to: Consumer Beverage, Wings Flights of Hope, Clyde Price (with music equipment), Christ The King Seminary staff and all there food vendors, Ryan Bishoff (recording and lighting). Doug Caskey (video), as well as over 100 volunteers and committee chairs.
Though Brady will not be present at the benefit, he is looking forward to connecting with his supporters through the Internet via Skype.
“I know everyone will have a great time,” Brady said.
Tickets are available at www.peterbradyhealingfund.com and at the door. Donations for Brady can also be made through the website and through any M&T Bank.