December 30th will see a crucial NA3HL Midwest Division matchup at the Affton Ice Rink, where the St. Louis Jr. Blues will host the Cincinnati Thunder. While the two points on offer are certainly important, both clubs will also be playing for an even bigger cause: namely, the Jr. Blues’ #1 fan Brendan Staub and his charity, Brendan’s Buddies.
Brendan is a former Affton Americans hockey player and the son of Jr. Blues goalie coach Mark Staub. When he was just 8½ years old, Brendan began suffering from major seizures that doctors explained were caused by bilateral calcifications on his brain. The doctors said the calcifications had stopped growing at that time, and with medications Brendan remained seizure free from May through August of 2004. His seizures returned that October: an MRI was conducted to make sure the calcifications were not growing, which they were not. However, instead the MRI showed Brendan had a rapidly growing tumor in his right temporal lobe of his brain. The tumor was removed immediately and the surgery was a success: the Staub family was told that Brendan’s seizures would get better. But the symptoms got even worse: later that year Brendan would suffer from more than 50 seizures a day. Doctors would try and diagnose Brendan with multiple illnesses, but all turned out to be wrong.
In July of 2006 staff at Shriners’ Hospital claimed that Brendan’s calcifications were still growing. That November, Brendan suffered a stroke-like episode that put him in a three-day seizure. Since then, Brendan experienced multiple other stroke-like episodes in the occipital lobe of his brain, all of which have greatly affected his vision. In January 2007 Brendan had his first appointment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He arrived in Minnesota with very poor vision, 20/500. At the time, doctors gave Brendan two years to live. Brendan’s brain had been taken over by an undiagnosed white matter disease.
The doctors knew that they had to do something fast and they had to be aggressive. They prescribed Brendan an experimental drug (intravenous immunuoglobulin, or IVIG), and it has worked. With these treatments the disease has remained contained, he has been seizure free for multiple years, but his vision still comes and goes. Each year, Brendan takes several trips to the Mayo Clinic for treatment and research. To this date, Brendan’s illness has still not been diagnosed. Brendan still receives these very costly IVIG treatments every two weeks to keep him alive. Even through all these maladies and worries, Brendan’s spirit remains alive and infectious. He is a regular fixture at Jr. Blues practices, always willing to offer his opinion on hockey and indeed all sports. During games, Brendan serves as the Jr. Blues team DJ.
The Staub family has since created Brendan’s Buddies, a charity which assists families throughout the St. Louis area in dealing with the myriad costs associated with treating children with severe illnesses. The Jr. Blues organization will donate $10 to the charity for each goal scored by the team on the 30th, and encourages all fans in attendance to also pledge money for each goal. In addition, the team will be wearing commemorative Brendan’s Buddies jerseys, which will be auctioned off throughout the game.