MANSFIELD (CBSDFW.COM) – Jarrod Brodnax sat in his living room and watched his wife play with his two small children. He said that he is thankful for everything, but wanted one more present this holiday. “To hold my kids again, and to be able to walk,” Brodnax told CBS 11 News. The 31-year-old lives in Midlothian and is bound to a wheelchair.
Once a firefighter and paramedic in Mansfield, Brodnax no longer has any feeling in his left arm and leg. “Every day is a good day that I get another chance to wake up,” said Brodnax. “I know I’m blessed to be alive.”
More than a year ago, Brodnax got hurt on the job. He was making sure that a stretcher with a patient did not hit the ground. He bent over to catch the stretcher, he said, twisted his ankle and felt a pop in his shoulder. Brodnax has had three surgeries since then, but a extra shock came after the last procedure, when doctors told his family that he has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
ALS is a serious neurological disease that causes muscle weakness and disability. According to the Mayo Clinic, ALS begins with muscle twitching and weakness in an arm or leg, or with slurring of speech. Eventually, ALS affects a person’s ability to control the muscles needed to move, speak, eat and breathe.
Brodnax said that he cannot even hold his daughters — 6-month-old Larkyn and 3-year-old Maryn.
“We’ve now gone to the Mayo Clinic in Florida, just to get another second opinion, just to make sure that that’s what it really is, because he’s so young,” said his wife, Melissa Brodnax, holding back tears. “Prognosis is not good, but we are still praying for a miracle. We’ve heard stories that this can be healed.”
Over the months, Brodnax’s close friends in the community have tried to help out the family. Friends like Steven Baker at the fire department have even raised thousands of dollars at various benefits. “I lost my father to ALS seven years ago,” explained Baker. “I know what him and his family are going through and are going to go through. That’s something extra for me, to help him in any way I can.”
Brodnax said that he misses being at the fire department. And although things have not been easy, he remains hopeful. “We believe in miracles,” he said. “That’s what I’m praying for. My faith in God will get me through this.”
If you would like to help out the Brodnax family, an account has been set up at the Arlington Federal Credit Union. Donations can also be sent the Mansfield Fire Department Association at P.O. Box 8, Mansfield, Texas, 76063.