NMB community rallies around `Little Chief’ Brady

Nine year old William Brice Brady had his fourth open heart surgery last week. This is the story of how North Myrtle Beach rallied around one of their own.

William Brice is a huge Chiefs fan, as in North Myrtle Beach Chiefs. His parents both graduated from North Myrtle Beach High School, and are heavily involved in the booster club. William attends every sporting event that he’s allowed to, and watches online during football season when he’s not able to attend. He loves football, and baseball, and his Xbox, and the Gamecocks, and Jadaveon Clowney. The North Myrtle Beach community loves him.

William Brice was born with pulmonary atresia, defined as a form of heart disease that occurs from birth (congenital heart disease), in which the pulmonary valve does not form properly. The pulmonary valve is an opening on the right side of the heart that regulates blood flow from the right ventricle (right side pumping chamber) to the lungs.

Additionally, he’s been diagnosed with ventricular septal defect. “What that really means is, normally there is a valve that connects from the heart to the lungs when you are in the womb. When you are born, that valve dissolves and the pulmonary valve takes over. But, William didn’t have the pulmonary valve,” his father Heath Brady explained.

He’s had 4 open heart surgeries, and 4 heart catheterizations. He’ll continue to have surgeries until he’s fully grown, with expectations of 5-10 more procedures before that occurs.

When the North Myrtle Beach community found out about his May 14th surgery, they organized a slew of activities to raise money for the family, and to show William Brice some love.

“It’s been an amazing experience to see the community kindness. It’s very humbling to have people that you don’t know to come up and offer well wishes, or to make donations, or to bring dinner to the home so that Alisha can concentrate on William,” Heath said.

The Horry County Fire Department stopped by the Brady household to give William a chance to jump in the big red truck. He and his brother Grayson had the opportunity to pose for pictures and see the truck.

T-shirts were designed by Roger’s Screen printing and sold to raise money. Stickers were produced by junior NMBHS baseball player Hayes Sexton.

On May 4th, over 1000 people joined together for a one day ATV event titled, “Riding for William: Williams Warriors.” Held at the Midway ATV Park, the event was a fantastic success, until the very last ride. William’s parents Heath and Alisha Brady were taking one last trip around the park on their ATV when they hit a washout pit. The handlebars were jerked violently, sending the ATV head on into a berm of clay at 40MPH. Heath and Alisha were both injured in the crash with Heath being ejected and knocked unconscious. Alisha suffered facial wounds that required stitches. After a trip to the hospital, the attention shifted back to William Brice.

On May 10th, Beach Boys BBQ held an event at the Brady family business, HD Audio/Video in Longs, serving over 900 plates to the local community. William Brady rode around in the delivery vehicle making appearances and thanking his supporters, while smiling and posing for pictures.

Perhaps the most impactful event to sports junkie William Brice was his chance to be a Chief for a day. NMB High was scheduled to play Wilson during a late season game, and embraced William as one of their own. “William Brice was head over the moon with being able to be a Chief baseball player for a night. He was the bat boy, got to throw out the first pitch, went in the outfield with them. It was awesome,” Heath said. “One of the coolest things though, was done by the Wilson head coach. He gave William a necklace that his mother had given him for safe passage and good luck. We’ll keep that forever.”

The Ocean Drive Elementary school 3rd grader (4th next year) left school a couple of weeks before the surgery to prepare. His final day of class was William Brice day. “Someone at the school bought all of his classmates T-shirts. They all wore them to surprise him when he came in,” Heath said.

On the day of the surgery, social media was flooded with pictures of William from local community members asking for prayers. The Brady’s kept a running update on Facebook as the community held their breath.

Over 5 hours later, the surgery was complete. The hole in his heart was closed and his pulmonary valve was replaced. He’ll still need another surgery in 5 to 7 years and regular checkups in the meantime.

William Brice woke up later that day asking for his Xbox and wanting to FaceTime with his buddy Jadeveon Clowney. Clowney has been a friend and supporter after Williams’ Make-A-Wish grant several years ago sent the family to Texas for a meet and greet with Clowney.

Three days after surgery, on May 17th, William Brice was well enough to return home to North Myrtle Beach.

Six days after the surgery, William Brice was walking around his neighborhood. His valves are working the way they should and the surgery looks like a complete success.

“I’m beyond thankful,” Heath said. “I don’t even know if I can put it into words how grateful we are. The appreciation is through the roof. The support the community has given us has been overwhelming.”

And how does William Brice feel about all this attention, and the surgery? “For him, it’s natural,” Heath said. “It’s the only way he knows. Being a sports junkie, the only thing he can grasp is his restriction from activity. He can’t play baseball, kickball, or run around with his friends. He’s very accepting of it and understands that that is how he is. Once he’s cleared, he can go back to those things. We won’t know that for another 8-16 weeks.”

Photos Provide by the family. Main image by Shana Mitchell Photography.

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