MANSFIELD (CBSDFW.COM) - It was more than two years ago that a freak on the job injury ultimately led to a North Texas firefighter and paramedic learning that he had a fatal degenerative disorder. On January 16, 2013, Mansfield first responder Jarrod Brodnax lost his battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Just after Christmas 2011 CBS 11 News profiled Brodnax and his family. The 32-year-old was married and had two children. Though he was wheelchair-bound said he was thankful to have seen another holiday and had the opportunity to hold his children. "Every day is a good day that I get another chance to wake up," he said. "I know I'm blessed to be alive."
Brodnax, who was born in Dallas and graduated from Midlothian High School, joined the Mansfield Fire Department in 2006. He received many honors while with the department, including the Rookie Of The Year Award, but was forced to retire on long-term disability in 2012.
Jarrod Brodnax was working in November of 2010, securing a patient being transported on a stretcher. The patient began to slip and as Brodnax tried to catch the stretcher he twisted his ankle and said he felt a "pop" in his shoulder. That injury led to three surgical operations. It was during the last procedure that doctor's discovered he had ALS.
When CBS 11 visited Brodnax he said he was unable to hold his daughters, then 6-month-old Larkyn and 3-year-old Maryn. His wife Melissa stood strongly beside her husband and always hoped for the best. "Prognosis is not good, but we are still praying for a miracle. We've heard stories that this can be healed," she optimistically said in 2011.
For many Jarrod Brodnax' brief life was a miracle. A statement of the City of Mansfield Fire Department website said, in part, "During his short time with the department he touched and changed the lives of the citizens of Mansfield." The statement ended, "He will be greatly missed."
Monday night, Jarrod's wife Melissa spoke with CBS 11 about her husband's legacy. "Jarrod is at peace now. We all feel like we can take a deep breath and move on and that's what he would want we know he's up there looking down on us."
She says explaining her husband's loss will be the hardest for her daughters, now 4 and 18 months. "We talked a little bit and she doesn't understand a lot," she said of the 4-year-old. " I think she knows something is going on." As for the younger daughter, she said the family will have lots of stories and memories to tell her about her father.
Funeral services for Jarrod Brodnax will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 22, 1013 and will take place at the Walnut Ridge Baptist Church in Mansfield. An open procession along Heritage Parkway from Main Street to Broad Street will begin at 9:45 a.m. Only family and members of Mansfield Fire Rescue will attend his private burial.
A fund has been set up for the family. You can find it at the Mansfield Fire Fighter Association website - mffa3599.org.
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