Bradley Walde was born far too early, weighing just two pounds. Further complications caused severe cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder affecting movement, muscle tone and motor skills. Bradley was left a quadriplegic, and faced multiple surgeries growing up.
“Even sitting in his hospital bed, though, he would smile and laugh,” said his father, Tony Walde, supervisor of Product Marketing for OPPD.
That unbreakable spirit did not make him invincible. On Jan. 31, 2012, at age 23, he succumbed to medical complications.
The following year, Tony started the Mudblast for CP mud volleyball tournament in Bradley’s memory, with all tournament proceeds going to United Cerebral Palsy of Nebraska. The event just marked its sixth year in August, and has raised more than $50,000 since it began.
“The money goes to families coping with disabilities,” Tony said. “From transportation to medical expenses, home renovations for handicap accessibility, it can be a real hardship.”
The Waldes know those burdens all too well.
“Living with a disability is often a silent battle, both for the person with the disability and the families and caretakers around them,” said Beth, 25, now an operations clerk at OPPD’s Omaha Service Center.
“Things people take for granted every day can be difficult or even impossible, and sometimes help is necessary.”
Families may need to hire caretakers, see specialists, or buy expensive equipment. “Fundraisers like Mudblast for CP may just provide the helping hand that makes a life-changing difference,” she said.
“The goal is helping patients and their families live a life without limits,” Tony said.
He says his friends and colleagues from OPPD make a big impact, with dozens participating in the event. Nick Sinnott, a former OPPD Surge Guard installer, is one of the organizers. He owns Sinnotts Sandbar in Papillion, where the event is held each August.
“His facility doesn’t take any of the proceeds,” Tony said. “It’s a very generous commitment.”
Fitting, considering the kind of life Bradley lived.
“He was the kindest person I’ve ever met,” said Beth, “and an amazing big brother to me and my sister, Nikki. He taught us empathy, patience, and how to always find the positives in life.”
Beth said Bradley also had an ornery side, and he loved to get a laugh out of people.
“He did his brotherly duty of poking fun at me and my sister very well.”
She thinks Bradley would be tickled at the thought of their family caked in mud and sand while competing for him. And she’s heartened by how the event has snowballed.
“I see and hear about Mudblast t-shirts all around town,” Beth said. “My brother wanted nothing more than to see people happy, so what an amazing way to honor him.”
Bradley’s father couldn’t agree more.
“His love still resonates today.”
For more information on Mudblast for CP, or to look into forming a team or becoming a sponsor in 2019, visit www.facebook.com/MudBlastforCP/.