TROY — A Troy teenager is going to have an experience of a lifetime when he gets to represent Shriners at the hospital’s annual PGA tournament in Las Vegas in October.
When Bryson Block was 8-years-old he sustained second and third degree burns over 87 percent of his body. He spent five months at Shriners Hospital in Dayton.
“One thing that sticks out to me is really my sister, she use to kiss me on the forehead and that gave me a lot of inspiration as well as it just really stuck in my mind,” he said.
Bryson has gone to Shriners Children’s Ohio for more than 40 surgeries for skin grafts and scar releases. His mom, Jaclyn Brock, spent almost the entire five months by his side. She was either with him, or home checking in on Bryson’s brother and sister.
She said she would’ve done anything so Bryson didn’t have to go through what he did.
“Literally offered up all of our own skin if that was a possibility,” Brock said. “Unfortunately that’s something that can not be done. His body would reject anybody’s skin but his own.”
Jaclyn said that six years ago the goals Bryson had set would seem simple to most people. She said he wanted to brush his teeth on his own and take a certain number of steps over a certain amount of time. Jaclyn said it’s things that most people take for granted.
One of Bryson’s biggest motivators was he wanted to get out of the hospital to celebrate his 9th birthday and he wanted to get back to playing sports like he did before the accident.
“I just didn’t want to celebrate my birthday in the hospital,” Bryson said. “You don’t want to be in a hospital for big dates, no matter how good the hospital is. I really wanted to be at home, be the place I was before the burns and all that.”
He was able to be out of the hospital in time for his 9th birthday. Now, he’s getting ready to celebrate his 15th birthday. He just started his freshman year at Troy and is a wide receiver on the freshman football team. He’s achieved all of his goals that he’s set out for himself.
“It means a lot to play but I think that when you’re in the moment just on the field playing you’re not really thinking about that, you’re just thinking ‘I got to tackle this dude. I’ve got to catch this ball’,” Bryson said.
Steve Becker is the head coach of the freshman football team at Troy. The team has been practicing for a couple weeks and Bryson’s determination to reach his goals is already very apparent to Becker.
“Best thing about Bryson is he comes out, he’s always the first one in every drill no matter if he’s tired, no matter if he just went a bunch of drills before, he is always the first one in the drill,” Becker said.
It might be something most take for a granted, a high school football practice, but to Jaclyn and her family, the cherish every one of these moments.
“For us it’s the little miracles at this point,” Brock said. “The fact that he’s even able to be out there and do what he’s doing and doing something that he loves and he has so much passion for is just very humbling in all honesty. Being through what we’ve been through and what he’s gone through.”
Bryson was chosen as one of 22 patient ambassadors throughout the country to represent the pediatric care network at the tournament, where he will serve as a standard bearer throughout the weekend, carrying the scores of professional golfers as they compete in the tournament. It is a rare “inside the ropes” opportunity at a PGA TOUR event, as well as the chance to share how Shriners Hospitals have helped transform his life.
“It was shock, surprise, excitement,” Jaclyn said when of the moment she first learned they’d be a part of the annual event. “It’s a great opportunity, it’s something I didn’t even realize we were a part of. We’re going to have a great time, we’re really excited to represent Shriners. They have done so much for us to be able to give back a little bit is awesome.”
Bryson plays four sports: football, baseball, basketball and track. He says if he doesn’t become a professional football player, he would like to become a veterinarian. Right now he’s focused on football and the start of school, then he’s got his birthday. After that he said he’ll be able to really look forward to going to Las Vegas.
The thing he’s looking forward to the most? The shopping, specifically he’s looking for some Air Jordans.
Coming so far from where he was six years ago, Bryson said he’s not done.
“I still have a long way to go, I want to keep getting better, keep improving and not just in sports, in school, in my life.”
Shriners Children’s Ohio representatives said it’s relatively rare to have a local patient be the ambassador. The hospital treats children from around the world. The 22 locations in the United States, Canada, and Mexico provide care for children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate regardless of the families’ ability to pay.
Bryson is raising money as part of being a patient ambassador for Shriners. His story is also on his fundraising page through the hospital’s website.
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