Bret Dunlap: Brain Injured at Age 6, an Inspiration at Age 45

by DFS-Pet-Blog on May 10, 2013

Most of the time our blog articles are about pets. That’s understandable. We sell pet stuff. But if we could today, we want to point you toward a story about one of our team members here at Drs. Foster and Smith, a man named Bret Dunlap.

There is a story about Bret in the June edition of Runner’s World. They did a wonderful job writing about Bret and his running, but their real focus was on Bret. We are grateful to them. The article is spectacular. If you think life had been unfair to you or if you are going through some hard times, this article will help, but have some tissue handy.

When Bret was 6 years old he ran out in front of a truck and was badly injured. He’s 45 now, but has been brain injured since the accident. Some months ago when I was talking to Bret about this upcoming article, he said to me in his halting way of speaking, “The doctors told my Mom to prepare my funeral and that I wouldn’t live. But I did. Then they told her I’d never speak again or walk again, but I did. They they told her I’d never live to be 13 years old, but I did. I guess the name on their jackets says M-D, not G-O-D,” and he laughed.

He told me that one of the reasons he runs now, is to encourage other brain damaged people that life can be ok, though he hastened to add, “But I’ll always be brain damaged.”

He said, “A guy could be bitter about how things happen in life, but you have to get past that.” He commented that it’s not the cards you are dealt that matters in life, but how you play the ones you are dealt.

This story was almost never written. Bret used to be too shy to talk to many folks. But running and being out with people gave him courage, so at one of the marathons he ran, he went up front at a session to get an autograph from a speaker. The speaker chatted a bit with Bret and then waved over one of the writers from Runner’s World and said, “You need to hear this.” The story of Bret Dunlap was born.

Runner’s World came to Doctor’s Foster and Smith this winter to do the story. Perfect, because reality got to be seen as Bret walked two miles home in the snow and cold like he does every day in the winter, refusing rides. Rain or shine, downpour or drizzle, Bret walks to and from work. Dozens and dozens of us have offered rides to Bret. He always politely says, “No thanks.” I always thought it was because of an innate fear of vehicles caused by his accident. Nope. He always refuses because he doesn’t want people to feel uncomfortable or obligated.

He’s an amazing guy and his story is an inspiration. I can’t tell you how many people who work with Bret have read the story and cried. One thing about the story, the writer said that Bret has never been to a company picnic. He has. One of our cooks remembered that he eats chicken instead of ribs. It may be that the writer just didn’t remember correctly. But that’s ok. We are grateful to the writer for what they shared. We learned things about Bret that we didn’t know. He is an amazing guy. Just today as I write this I heard that Bret was having a down day yesterday until a card came in the mail. It was from a mother in Oregon whose daughter has an unfortunate disease. She said that Bret’s story inspired her. That brightened Bret’s day.

How does a brain damaged guy from Rhinelander, Wisconsin inspire someone half a country away? Read and find out. It will change your life in some way, I’m sure of it.

Here’s the article.

Pick up the magazine too, if you would. There are pictures of Bret and his Mom, as well as Bret with his cat, and Bret with the lady who helped him on the treadmill. Great folks. Great story. He’s an amazing guy.


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