Brittan Cupp, an incoming high school senior, is walking around his house. Turning on and off light switches, shooting hoops with his friends and watching basketball games on TV with his parents.
It's everything an average teenager would do. But Brittan, a former Waxahachie High School baseball player, can hardly talk, it's still a struggle to breathe his words in and out. Communication is difficult, and writing his name again is something he is working on.
A little more than a year ago, Brittan was lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life. After a skateboarding injury on June 22, 2014, left the teenager with traumatic brain injuries, he spent several weeks drifting in and out of conciousness before being discharged a month later.
His family's love and their faith have played a huge supporting role in Brittan’s recovery up to this point, his father Dan’l Cupp said.
“To this day since the accident, he hasn't been by himself,” Dan'l said. “We were told he wasn't going to make it, breathe on his own and live in a nursing home the rest of his life. I remember his eyes were closed and the doctors said his left eye may never open again. We had that Facebook page for him and we asked for prayers. About a week later, his eyes were open. We were surprised at that. Everything that they said he wasn't going to be able to do again, we asked for prayers over and we believe in the power of prayer now.”
Along with the Indians' head baseball coach Tracy Wood, assistant coach Jim Miller and the team’s booster club, the RBI Club, the community has also helped Brittan grow and continue to heal. The family created a Facebook page shortly after the accident called “Updates on Brittan Cupp,” where they kept the community updated on how Brittan was doing. They were also inundated with prayers and sentimental thoughts of hope from all across the country on the social media page, and are still receiving more to this day.
“I'll never ever forget that day. I knew he was special from the moment I set eyes on him, all of our patients are, but I was drawn to Brit. Perhaps I was drawn to him because I had a daughter that age? Perhaps it's because he favors one of my nephews? I don't know what it is, but I know that no matter what my eyes have seen, and what has been thrown my way, Brit's story ranks extremely high for me,” stated Wendi Minton on the Facebook page. “I remember so many things about that day like it was yesterday, I guess because I ran it back over and over in my mind every single day & night for the longest, hoping and praying that he would make it through. I had never met Brittan before his accident, but I love him dearly. I can't explain how precious he is to me, as well as his sweet family. I know that Brit will be restored, I know he'll be talking soon, God has answered every single prayer we have asked of him, I know he'll continue to do that. Brit is here to do big things, he's already made believers out of so many. Continuing to pray, love & hugs to all.”
The family also goes to therapy with him every single day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Center for Neuro Skills in Las Colinas in the Irving area, said Angie Cupp, Brittan’s mother. His balance has improved. He walks straighter now, though he occasionally hunches over because his center of gravity is still a little off, she said. He’ll be doing physical therapy for the rest of the year, and his family will be right beside him, she said.
“Our goal is to get Brittan back to being able to go to school and to participate in sports and some of those types of things,” Angie said. “Of course, our goal is 100 percent restoration.”
He’s even had a WISD teacher meet him three days a week to keep him caught up with school, she said. But his communication skills still have a long way to go.
“She was able to get him to put numbers in order, write letters, write a few words and some of those types of things,” Angie said. “Until Brittan starts to talk to us and is able to do some of the assessments, we really don't know where he is at in his recovery.”
But that doesn’t keep the teenager from showing some sass and poking fun at his loved ones for smiles and laughs. One of the best support systems the family currently has is Brittan’s girlfriend Megan Johnson, Dan’l said. Megan and Brittan had been dating for 11 months at the time of his accident, Megan said.
“We've known each other since kindergarten,” Megan said. “I never thought about leaving him.”
Their relationship has helped bring back Brittan’s playful personality since the accident, she said. There’s even a picture of him with Megan shortly after he began therapy where his eyes, smile and expression all aligned for what seemed like the first time in a long time, Angie said.
“It is one of the first pictures we had of Brittan where we thought that was the same Brittan that we know and his expressions,” Angie said.
He’ll get in his father’s truck and turn the thermostat to heat, because he knows Dan’l likes the temperature to be cold, Dan’l said. So, he'll turn it on and smile at his father and Dan’l won't even realize what Brittan’s done until he feels it. So, he’ll turn the heater back off, only for Brittan to turn it on again and laugh.
“Every day we see something different. He progresses every day,” Dan'l said. “Whether it be a hand gesture or speaking and mouthing more words. It's unknown where he will be a year from now. Doctors said, 'If you've seen one brain injury, you've seen one.' So every brain injury is different. Of course, I have faith that God is going to heal Brittan completely and he's taught me patience. You've got to be very patient for sure.”