Families taking care of loved ones with multiple sclerosis have a surefire friend in Joe Bradley ’96. Bradley and his brother, Michael ’98, and their friend Dan Johnson are raising funds to provide respite and healthcare services to families in Northeast Ohio. The trio started the Karen Foundation for MS in 2007 named for Joe’s and Michael’s mother, Karen Bradley, who has lived with MS for 20 years. The foundation holds an annual NFL Draft Benefit Party and other fundraiser events.
What began as a fundraising party with a small group of friends in his parents’ basement has grown dramatically. In April, ESPN broadcast a live on-air interactive analysis of draft day picks from the benefit at Barley House with Cleveland Browns player Peyton Hillis and former player Gregg Pruitt.
When he was in fourth grade, Bradley found out that his mother had been diagnosed with MS. “She was the strongest person I had ever known,” he says. “It never occurred to me that the disease would affect her in any major way.” When Bradley was in college, his mother’s condition declined quickly and then she suffered a stroke. Despite the loss of her ability to talk, eat normally and move voluntarily, he says, “our family vowed to do everything possible to maintain the vivacious spirit in her otherwise failing body.”
Bradley, president of the Karen Foundation for MS, says that the foundation wanted to provide hope and immediate help to families and that respite care has traditionally been an unfunded need. Proceeds from the fundraisers go to the Ohio Buckeye Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In 2010, the Karen Foundation for MS received the organization’s Award of Inspiration. The foundation is the largest third-party contributor to the Ohio Buckeye Chapter providing more than 85 percent for respite care grants.
“The foundation helps families acquire services that make an immediate impact on their ability to keep loved ones at home, maintain a high quality of life and carry on with their daily responsibilities,” Bradley says.
The alum attributes many of his core values and principles to his years at Gilmour. “I was surrounded by really smart and competitive classmates,” he says. Bradley notes that he also benefitted from “some outstanding and exceptional teachers and coaches.”
Bradley, who graduated from Cleveland State University, is a business development manager at Ganeden Biotech, which makes and sells probiotic enhanced food, beverages and nutritional supplements for the food, health and nutrition industries. He has helped develop Pierre’s Yovation frozen yogurt, enLiven yogurt and Sustenex Probiotic Gummies.
Bradley and his wife, Krista, live in University Heights with their two dogs. He hopes that the NFL Draft Benefit Party will spread across the country to every city with an NFL team to benefit families providing care for MS patients. Bradley says that his spirited mom is still valiantly fighting MS “with the same fortitude and sense of purpose as ever” with the help of his father and grandmother who provide ongoing care.