Teen With Rapid Growth Disease Gains Community Support

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

A small community is rallying behind its biggest resident, 15-year-old Broc Brown.

The 7-foot-5 Vandercook Lake High School student is battling a rare rapid growth disease. The condition is called Sotos Syndrome, or Cerebral Gigantism. It's a gene disorder that had Broc over 3-feet-tall by the time he was just 2-months-old.

Now he's a teenager that spends his days in and out of doctors appointments and constantly ducking under doorways.

Broc doesn't mind though, he said it's cool to be tall.

"I can dunk," Broc said. "It's definitely like a good feeling to be tall."

It's not always a good feeling though. The teenager doesn't fit in his own bed, and his feet are bigger than Shaq's.

"They're like clown shoes to me," Broc said.

His mom said the bills can be tough, but their spirits are always high.

"There's a lot of things that are hard, like finding shoes for him, finding clothes," Darci Elliot said. "We live in a trailer, so that's really hard for him. He's always ducking."

Even though Broc can dunk and Nike made him one-of-a-kind size 24 kicks, he can't play on any team. Broc's gene disorder makes him too weak and out of breath. Now, after a month's stay in the hospital for heart problems, the community wants to help out their gentle giant.

"We miss his laughter, we miss him being a part of our group," Broc's teacher Brenda Cavanaugh said. "So, the kids really look up to him. No pun intended."

Broc's condition puts a strain on his body, and he's been undergoing surgery at Mott's Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, but there is no cure.

"There's no medications, nothing to stop him growing," Elliot said. "They thought maybe if it was hormones or hormone medicine they could slow it down, but there's no way."

Doctors estimate he'll get to at least 8-feet if his heart and kidneys keep up, and that means plenty of more special clothes and hospital visits. So, Broc's school has stepped in to raise money, and his close friend started "We Support Broc Brown" on Facebook -- it's already gone global.

"There's so many people right now that want to do different fundraising," Vandercook Lake High School Principal Mark Schornhard said.

He said lots of students want to help raise money. The school is offering "hat days" on Fridays for students to donate money, and in turn, be allowed to wear a hat. They're also hosting a pancake breakfast on April 13.

"All the kids have come to love Broc, they really have," Cavanaugh said.

Broc and his mom feel the same way.

"I've never had so much support in my life," Elliot said.

"I love 'em all," Broc said.

He does want to get one thing straight though.

"I like being called The Hulk," Broc said.

He also likes to dance, and dreams of dancing with Ellen on her show. Broc will be able to test his moves at a spaghetti benefit dinner and party on March 30 at Denton's Den.

Broc is waiting on some test results to find out when he might need his next surgery. It could be as soon as this week.

You can keep track of Broc's journey here:
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Broc-Brown/410791469012580?fref=ts


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