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Brad’s Story

“Imagine being born into a world that was not designed for you,” says Brad Bartko, former Glenrose patient. For Brad, this was all too true a reality from the moment he was born. 

Ever since Brad was two years old and diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy (CP) and severe spasticity, the Glenrose quickly became more than just his second home, it was his second family. 

CP is a motor disability that affects an individual’s ability to move and control their muscles. Individuals with spastic CP have increased muscle tone causing stiffness and mobility challenges.  

At birth, Brad was born prematurely. He had one fully developed lung, bleeding in his brain, and was given only 24 hours to live. But 24 hours soon turned into 24 days and countless more, and as the days went by, Brad had beaten the odds. Due to his disability, Brad endured twenty childhood operations, many of which included Botox injections to relax his muscles. He worked incredibly hard to overcome his challenges with his Glenrose team right by his side. 

“When you come here, they’re cheering you on and they actually care.” – Brad Bartko

After his last major operation at the age of 17 to correct his legs, both of Brad’s legs were broken from above the knee down to turn them back in where they were previously bent at a 45-degree angle. Following his surgery, Brad returned to the Glenrose for four months of intense rehabilitation, including physical therapy and occupational therapy in which he relearned how to walk, use the stairs, and strengthen his muscles, recreation therapy which consisted of pool work, and gait analysis at the Syncrude Centre for Motion and Balance.  

When he first started pool work, Brad was terrified of the water. “Having the therapist with me helped me gain confidence,” he said.  

During Brad’s time at the hospital, he was set to graduate high school. While he worked on finishing up his coursework at the Glenrose School in between his rehabilitation, he made it his personal goal to walk across the stage at graduation to accept his high school diploma alongside his peers.  

And determined he was. When graduation day approached, he reached his goal and walked across the stage.

“When I came around the corner, the room exploded. There were 2,000 of my friends and family standing and chanting my name.” – Brad Bartko

Besides his family, Brad credits much of his success to the staff at the Glenrose. “Being at the Glenrose and going through therapy helped me achieve one of the biggest goals of my life,” said Brad.  

Today, he’s serving his bigger purpose. Alongside his wife, Jenn, Brad co-founded his company—disAbility: Accessible by Design—where he works with companies and organizations to make their businesses, establishments, events and experiences more accessible. Regarding his business, “I do it for the next generation, so they don’t have to endure what I did.”  

Help others like Brad achieve their goals today with a donation to the Glenrose Hospital Foundation.

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