‘Pray for Nick Brown’: joyful homecoming with ‘Alabama family’


Nick Brown greets a well-wisher at Tuesday’s VFW luncheon. Brown suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2015. (Nick Griffin for The Tribune)

CULLMAN – An important guest was on-hand at the Cullman VFW Post 2214 Tuesday luncheon this week, and his presence saw healthy crowds come and go to eat, relax and fellowship with one another. Nick Brown, grandson of the VFW’s Col. Ken Brown, was the guest of honor and was greeted by dozens of supporters who have been praying for him from a distance.

Nick suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), a contusion and subdural hematoma, after taking a high-impact blow to the head during a football game at Union Mine High School in California in August 2015. The running back and safety collapsed on the field after the game and was immediately flown to Sutter Roseville Medical Center where he was quickly taken into surgery to relieve pressure building on his swelling brain.

Nick was flown to HealthBridge Children’s Hospital in Orange, California on Sept. 18, and after taking gradual steps over the next several weeks, spoke his first word since the injury on Oct. 10, 2015. After more surgeries, physical therapy and a couple of hospital transfers, Nick was finally released from the hospital on Dec.16. Nick has been living at home with his family, his condition improving, with the help of speech, occupational and physical therapy sessions.

Through the “Pray for Nick Brown” Facebook page, many of Cullman’s own citizens were able to reach out with their thoughts and prayers for the family. Nick’s mother Laurie Brown was excited to meet some of the people supporting them from across the country during Tuesday’s luncheon.

“It means a lot because we knew that people were following his page and they would tell us they were our ‘Alabama family,’” she said. “It was nice to know that there were people everywhere that were praying for Nick so its really neat to meet some of them.”

Laurie talked about the keys to her family staying positive throughout this process, as well as the progress her son has made in just a few short years.

“Lots of prayer, lots of faith, lots of hope. We try not to let ourselves think of any of the negative stuff. I think it was helpful to have other parents reach out to us that have been through it and told us, you know, ‘Don’t listen to the doctor, it’s in God’s hands; they don’t decide,’ and we felt that way too,” Laurie said. “He’s doing so much better than they ever said. They thought he would just be vegetated and we wouldn’t have wanted that for him, but he woke and just started progressing pretty fast. Physically everything came back pretty fast, but it’s the cognitive stuff that was slower and we’re still working on that.”

The support that Laurie and her family received has inspired them to give back to families going through similar situations. She has seen Nick grow into even more of a people-person and knows that he will do big things to help others with his life.

“I just think that having that support system of people that have been through it will help us be able to do the same thing now. We’ve met a lot of people that have had children in accidents after ours and people have found his page and asked us questions and it’s kind of nice to be that person giving back, you know. We received so much from them so that’s kind of been our thing now is trying to help other people through it,” she said. “We’re hoping someday he can do some motivational speaking and kind of be an advocate. He loves kids, he loves people; before he was kind of cool and he was a nice guy, but now he just loves people. He asks you how your day is, he likes to give hugs, he just genuinely cares about people and doesn’t think about himself anymore, so I just think he would be great with helping others.”

Nick’s father, Read Brown, was also anxious to meet some of the people who have been praying for their family and credits those prayers for his families’ strength during the toughest parts of this process.

“This whole experience has been life-changing, as you can imagine. It means a lot; for the longest time we didn’t know if Nick was going to survive or what the outcome was going to be. They told us he would never walk or talk or function normally, so the prayers were huge,” Read said. “The prayers are what kept us going for months while he was in the hospital having brain surgeries and infections and complications. So, the prayers on his Facebook page and the comments from people we didn’t even know out here are what gives you hope to keep going as a parent.”

This experience has taken an emotional toll on the Brown family, but it has also helped them grow stronger in their faith and even help others going through the same thing.

“Our perspective has changed a lot. We were, like everybody else before this accident, chasing money and trying to work as much as possible, but this shows you what’s really important in life. We’re so grateful for the all of the perfect strangers who took the time to pray and keep us in their thoughts, and I guess it’s kind of healing for us. It’s a healing process to be able to come and get some closure and let people see that their prayers are what kept us going,” Read said. “We were praying a lot in the beginning that Nick would get better and he would survive, but we were praying for what we wanted. I think what we learned through this process is that we had to give up what we wanted and just pray that God’s will be done. If that meant that Nick passed, then that meant he passed away. If that meant he would survive, then there is a reason for that, so we truly believe he is here to do something better. This is great for us to be able to come meet everybody and just show them how much they meant to us and still mean to us.”

Today Nick is doing better than ever, but the healing process is far from over and medical costs are still an issue. If you would like to donate toward the family’s medical expenses, please do so by way of the Pray for Nick account #013252010 that has been set up at El Dorado Savings Bank; 100 percent of the donations will go directly to Nick’s medical costs and ongoing recovery.

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