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Brady Howard keeps overcoming obstacles

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By Panzi Blackwell

B is for braveand for Brady Howard, who is back home in rural Brownstown after months of hospitalization in St. Louis.

Complications following surgery resulted in a stroke, and Brady slipped into a coma, with paralysis to the right side. There were weeks of discouraging reports and a prognosis by the doctors that Brady would probably never walk again.

However, Bradys family said that when Brady left the hospital, he would be walking out. And he did!

Brady has spent the whole 18 years of his life undergoing surgeries, due to a rare congenital defect, Nagers Syndrome, which can cause underdevelopment of the cheek and jaw area, along with other abnormalities.

This last round of surgery and hospitalization, which began in February, has been a rough and heart-breaking one.

His family (parents and grandparents), with faith, determination and the support of many peoples prayers, believed that Brady would walk out of the hospital when it was time for him to come home. The doctors disagreed, but they didnt know Brady.

Brady has won the admiration and respect of all who know him.

While still very young, Brady ignored the restrictions that his physical condition put on him. With considerable grit, he underwent more than 25 surgeries in 18 years, and still participated not only in routine family life.

He also assumed the sometimes awesome responsibilities connected with raising goats and pigs for 4-H. From raising to breeding to birthing, he has been successful, showing and winning trophies and ribbons. He has been a member of the Southside 4-H Club for nine years.

Brady has a wall full of trophies for his Boer goats, like the ones he won with this year.

His grandmother, Mary Howard, said, Brady helped with the birth of all of these goats showing today. He was out there day and night with them.

Brady loves participating in the 4-H, and took on the caring for and showing of goats and pigs at the county and state fairs willingly and with integrity. His determination has resulted in bringing back home champions, including the reserve champion of the state last year.

The chances of him being able to participate at the Fayette County Fair this year seemed nil, until Brady showed his determination to walk again.

When he first got out of his wheelchair, he wanted to walk to the hospital cafeteria. He refused the offer to take the chair with them to use coming back. He made the trip, coming and going.

Because he wasnt able to handle his goats in this years 4-H competition, his sisters and cousins showed them for him. He was awarded two trophies and ribbons for two of his goats they received champions and reserve champion honors.

Brady walked to the show arena, sat in a chair during the judging and stood up to receive his trophies. Several others of the goats Brady had cared for prior to his surgery in February also won ribbons.

For Bradys family, it was a time of real triumph in their faith in God and in Brady, and evidence of answers to prayers when Brady stood to accept the trophies.

His family including parents Matt and Rhonda Howard, sisters Madison and Maicie, and grandparents have pulled together, willingly and without complaints.

Madison and Maicie were keeping busy at the 4-H show, showing their brothers goats to their best advantage, and Rhonda said that his grandparents, Ronnie and Mary Howard, had helped them so much. Grandpa has been keeping the animals fed and keeping the mowing up, she said.

When asked about his future, Brady indicated he wants to be a farmer. This is his last year in 4-H, but one can imagine his continued interest in the 4-H in the future, including service in the show arena and judging.

Brady proved the doctors wrong, and he is at the Fayette County Fair with his goats and pigs this week, but he still has some serious obstacles to overcome. He is taking speech therapy and, while not making conversation easily, is showing marked improvement.

To see Bradys brave and genuine smile is an inspiration in itself, apart from his determination to carry on his life as independently as possible, with no woe-is-me attitude even remotely visible.

How can we help?

Coming home doesnt mean the expenses stop. Brady has to go to Effingham every day for 3-3 hours, and the constant contact with doctors means higher telephone bills.

In addition to medical bills that may not be covered, there are many other expenses at this time, including gas, food, telephone bills and lodging for family members who need to be with the patient.

The Howards are also faced with loss of pay resulting from the time off of work.

The Brownstown Fire Department is sponsoring a benefit chicken dinner for Brady this Sunday, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the firehouse. The cost is $6 for adults and children age 6 and over; children age 5 and under will be served free of charge. Desserts will be available for $1 extra. There will be a raffle, 50/50 drawing and auction.