Federal Way survivor, 11, gives back to Make-A-Wish Foundation

Federal Way 11-year-old Alex Bradshaw is back playing football and baseball after spending five weeks in intensive care in 2011. Bradshaw was given four Seattle Seahawks season tickets by defensive lineman Brandon Mebane through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and is looking to give back to the charity. - Courtesy photo
Federal Way 11-year-old Alex Bradshaw is back playing football and baseball after spending five weeks in intensive care in 2011. Bradshaw was given four Seattle Seahawks season tickets by defensive lineman Brandon Mebane through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and is looking to give back to the charity.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Alex Bradshaw is back to being your normal, run-of-the-mill 11-year-old. He played on the Federal Way National Little League all-star team and is currently getting ready for the football season as a running back with the Federal Way Hawks.

It’s quite a difference from two and a half years ago. That’s when Bradshaw’s life changed. On Valentine’s Day 2011, Bradshaw went into cardiac arrest and was down for 18 minutes before being resuscitated in the emergency room at St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way.

Bradshaw was then transported in an ambulance to Tacoma’s Mary Bridge Hospital, where he had emergency surgery to remove his entire colon and part of his small intestines.

“My mom and dad were told that there was a chance I may not survive the ambulance ride to Mary Bridge,” Bradshaw said.

Following the cardiac arrest, Bradshaw spent five weeks in the intensive care unit and underwent four major surgeries during his time in the hospital.

During that time, he was diagnosed with Ogilvie syndrome and was forced to re-learn everything a kid takes for granted. Stuff like walking, eating and brushing his own teeth.

But everything is back to normal now. Unlike years past, Bradshaw “only” has to go see the doctor every couple months. He is currently on daily medication to get a handle on his Ogilvie syndrome.

“Watching Alex is so exciting,” said Alex’s mother, Steph Bradshaw. “He has gotten back everything he used to have. I can’t even explain how cool it is to see. It brings tears to my eyes all the time to just watch him out there playing.”

Ogilvie syndrome is a rare, acquired disorder characterized by abnormalities affecting the involuntary, rhythmic muscular contractions within the colon. The contractions propel food and other material through the digestive system through the coordination of muscles, nerves and hormones.

Ogilvie syndrome can be managed with conservative treatment, but if unrecognized and untreated, can lead to serious, potentially life-threatening complications, like the ones Bradshaw experienced in 2011.

Coming back from his life-threatening ailment was a little tougher on the football field for both Bradshaw and his parents. Football, by nature, is a sport that includes players hitting each other as hard as they can every play of the four-quarter game.

“I was a little nervous about the football,” Steph Bradshaw said. “But the doctors said it was OK, so we let him go out there.”

Football players who suffer injuries will always describe the first time they take a big hit as the moment they know they are fully healthy. That moment came last year on the field for Bradshaw. When his sixth-grade Federal Way Hawks team was scrimmaging the seventh-grade team, Bradshaw, a running back, took a huge hit from one of the bigger kids on the other team.

“I got hit so hard that I got up and it knocked the wind out of me,” Bradshaw said with a laugh. “I knew after that, that I could take any hit.”

But, even after overcoming the physical effects of all the surgeries, Bradshaw also had to get past the emotional toll that went along with everything. The 11-year-old describes those challenges as being even tougher to overcome than the physical aspects.

“Many of my friends were supportive,” he said. “There were some friends who discouraged me, purposely hurting my feelings and bullied. I quickly became depressed.”

Everything changed in September 2011 when the Make-A-Wish Foundation grated Bradshaw his “wish” of watching every Seattle Seahawks home game.

Stud Seahawks defensive lineman Brandon Mebane showed up at Nautilus Elementary and gave Bradshaw four season-ticket packages for his family, along with a signed No. 92 jersey and other swag. To finish off the day, Mebane played catch with Bradshaw in the Nautilus parking lot.

“Everything changed,” Bradshaw said. “I realized after the next couple of months of going to Brandon’s games, that I wanted to strive for more in my life. Yes, I faced the impossible and survived. It’s going to be something that I will remember forever. It really picked me up when I was down.”

Now, Bradshaw is attempting to give back to an organization that gave so much to him. He has chosen to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation and has entered the “Walk for Wishes” benefit.

The free, family-friendly 5-kilometer walk will be held Sept. 15 at Redmond’s Marymoor Park with proceeds going straight to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The organization grants the wish of a child diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition.

Joining Bradshaw at the “Walk for Wishes” will be several members of his “select” baseball team, the Federal Way Fire, along with players from the Federal Way Hawks football team.

“We just wanted the kids to have a grasp on life and have them see what Alex has been through,” Steph Bradshaw said. “We want to get other kids involved in the walk to have things really hit home for them. We want them to understand and see what Alex is like now. There are a lot of kids out there who are challenged and this is a way for it to hit home.”


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