The following are excerpts of remarks given by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) at the Pop Warner Football Field, in Neptune Twp., N.J. on Aug. 1, 2019 marking one year since the death of Braeden Bradforth:
As we all know, Braeden had the highest hopes of advancing his football career at Garden City Community College and ultimately, playing in the NFL.
But one year ago today exertional heat stroke ended that beautiful dream.
For months Braeden’s mom—Joanne—was left to speculate as to how and why her beloved son lost his life. Bryce lost his brother, Sean lost a son, and Robert lost his step-son.
What was done and when—or not—during this crisis remains unknown to this day.
For months, college officials provided almost no meaningful answers. It was absurd—and wrong.
Joanne, however, and her good friend and tenacious lawyer Jill Greene of Avon—and all of us—pressed hard for an external, thorough and independent investigation.
More than nine months later, in mid-May, college officials finally agreed. A couple of weeks later, Dr. Rod Walters was named to lead the investigation.
Dr. Walter’s brings extensive experience both in sports medicine and in conducting investigations to this task—including the investigation of football player Jordan McNair’s 2018 death at the University of Maryland.
Death from exertional heat stroke is preventable.
When any athlete suffers from it, well-researched protocols exist that require prompt action to mitigate its impact, including death.
Yet according to the 2018 National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury, since 1995 there have been 64 exertional heat stroke deaths in the sport of football alone underscoring the compelling need to ensure that best practices are understood and utilized every time and everywhere.
So, to prevent exertional heat stroke deaths and to honor Braeden, tomorrow, I will introduce legislation called the Braeden Commission—Protect our Athletes from Exertional Heat Stroke.
This initiative to protect is inspired by Braeden and in a very special way by Joanne’s incredible love and devotion to her son.