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Waverly man with rare condition watches son graduate from college

Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 8:53 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) -A Waverly man continues to beat the odds after going through hundreds of medical procedures for a rare condition. Just recently, he was able to reach a goal he’s had set for years, and the nurses who have helped him survive all this time were there to see it happen.

Bradley Bray has a condition called tracheomalacia. It causes his trachea to collapse when he coughs. Because of this condition, he has to come to St. Elizabeth twice a week for a procedure that cleans out his lungs.

“This will be bronchoscopy number 734,” said Bray when 10/11 NOW interviewed him Friday.

Bradley is no stranger to CHI Health St. Elizabeth. He’s been coming twice a week for two decades, continuing to beat the odds.

“I never dreamed of it, “ said Bray. “Doctors didn’t either.”

Recently, he celebrated a milestone he had set for years, seeing his son Austin, who has been coming with him to treatments since he was only two, graduate from Wesleyan.

“That’s all he’s ever talked about was that was his goal to be around for when Austin graduates and goes to college,” said Denise Kopp Brad’s Nurse.

His son Austin drives his dad to most appointments and spent a lot of his childhood in the halls of St. Elizabeth.

“This is my five star hotel,” said Austin Gray, Brad’s Son. “My vacation getaway.”

To honor his dad, his graduation and the doctors and nurses who got them there, the art major created a collage of wristbands his dad gets from his treatments. It will be displayed at the nurse’s station.

“He’d throw them away and I’d just keep collecting them,” Gray said. “I hope the nurses seeing this and think of us and all of the people they help on a daily basis.”

Bray said he’s proud of his son, for the art work and so much more and plans to stick around for many more accomplishments to come.

“Now the goal will be for when he’s married or had kids,” said Bray. “I’ll just keep setting new deadlines for myself.”

Bradley and Austin tell us the staff at St. Elizabeth are more like family now. In fact, they’ve attended Austin’s high school then college graduations.

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