Brady Wein played his first lacrosse game at the Texas Lax Festival on May 27.

Pediatric Cancer Survivor Brady Wein Takes the Field for the First Time


For the first few years of his life, Brady Wein was accustomed to packing up the car with oxygen machines and medicine and making the trip to the hospital. Every eight weeks, the Wein family filled the car with equipment and drove from their home in Arizona to get their son treatment.

That was the norm. Wein spent much of his life in the hospital. He even learned to pick up ground balls on a hospital floor.

“He didn't know any better,” said Mike Wein, Brady’s father. “As long as his diaper was clean and he felt good, he thought everyone learned how to do ground balls in the hospital with tubes connected to them.”

On May 27, Brady traded medical supplies for a lacrosse stick and pads. Now 9, he was headed to the Texas Lax Festival in Lockhart, Texas, to play in a lacrosse game for the first time. Sitting in the car, turned to his mother, Rachel.

“Momma, I've been waiting my whole life for today,” he told her.

Brady took the field at Two Wishes Ranch and actually got to take part in warmups, a part of game day previously in which he had only been allowed to help. He was a full member of the Brady’s Bunch U9 team, aptly named after him.

It was a monumental day for Brady, his family and the lacrosse community that had supported his cause since he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia — cancer of the blood and bone marrow — when he was just seven weeks old. Told he would die, the Wein family did not accept that prognosis. After years of battling AML, Brady won. Now he’s excited to be able to participate in the sport that he grew up admiring from a hospital bed.


“Momma, I've been waiting my whole life for today." - Brady Wein, before playing in his first game on May 27.


“I felt excited,” Brady Wein said, briefly, of his first official lacrosse game. “I got an assist.”

“As a Mom, you want your kid to accomplish everything they want in life,” Rachel Wein said. “It’s really scary when your baby might not get a chance at that. No one knows what the future holds, and I hope that he’s here for so long. I hope that he can grow up and continue to do the things he wants to do. To be able to watch him fulfill one of his goals already in life, and I know he loves it and doesn’t take it for granted, I’m so happy for him.”

For Brady, the road to the lacrosse field has been rough. And it started almost immediately after he was born in 2008.

Just seven weeks after he was born, Brady Wein became sick while the family was living in Arizona. Mike Wein was on a cross-country flight to Boston when he heard that his son was headed for the hospital. He went right back home once he landed in Boston, and when he got to the hospital, he saw his son connected to tubes in the ICU.

Nothing could have prepared him for the diagnosis. Brady had AML. The treatment began immediately, with radiation followed by a bone marrow transplant.

At 2, Brady had bilateral cataracts surgery and two hip surgeries within a few months. He had 14 teeth pulled. All this in between multiple radiation treatments. As a result, he spent almost the entirety of his first three years in the hospital.

Eventually, doctors arrived at a morbid prognosis. Brady had reached the legal limit of white blood cells provided to him. His life was going to end without the white blood cells.

“You know what they were going to do? Let him die,” Mike Wein said. “They said, ‘Yeah, that’s it, no more.’ I said, ‘What do you mean no more?’ They answered with, ‘The law says this is this.’”








Mike Wein wasn’t going to give up easily, so he sent letters and spoke with those involved with the law and eventually got his son the treatment he needed. The Wein family moved back to Mike’s hometown of Framingham so that they could drive to New York City for an experimental treatment.

Through it all, Brady was every bit as cheery as a typical toddler. He wasn’t familiar with another life. He and his father played sports as best they could, whether Brady was connected to tubes at home or in the hospital. 

Mike Wein, a former coach at Chapparal High School in Arizona, made sure lacrosse was part of his son's life.

“As soon as he could sit up, Mike had a lacrosse stick in his hand and he was scooping in the hospital bed,” Rachel Wein said. “Brady loved it. I thank God for sports. I don’t know what he would have done without that. What would Brady have done without lacrosse? … We’re following him around with a backpack just holding the formula being pumped into his nose. He’s walking around our house scooping with a wooden lacrosse stick.”

During his son’s treatment, Mike Wein established Brady’s Bunch Lacrosse, a nonprofit that helps raise money for those effected by pediatric cancer. Through Brady’s Bunch, lacrosse players from around the country got to participate in the game they loved, while supporting Brady’s cause.

It started with a small number of players at Brady’s Bunch events, but it has expanded to thousands across the country. Brady’s story became so familiar that it reached professional athletes.

Professional baseball player Johnny Gomes developed a personal relationship with Brady Wein while Gomes was an outfielder with the Boston Red Sox.

Then there are the Major League Lacrosse players that have passed through the Brady’s Bunch ranks. Stars like Drew Snider, Peter Baum, Ryan Simps and Wes Berg all played with Brady’s Bunch before making it to MLL.

Others like Tom Schreiber, Will Manny, Kyle Harrison, Kevin Buchanan, Myles Jones and Boston Cannons coach Sean Quirk have been touched by Brady’s story. Schreiber even sent a signed Princeton jersey to the Wein family.

Brady Wein was quick to name drop his favorite team, and he hinted at his future plans. 

“I’m hoping to play with the Boston Cannons,” he said. “I know the whole team.”

Manny, the former Cannons’ attackman that was recently traded to New York and who will try out for Team USA July 10-12 in anticipation of next summer’s FIL World Championship, played with a Brady’s Bunch team when he was in eighth grade. He has kept in touch with the Wein family throughout his career, and gets to see Brady at practice a few times each season.

“You have a long week of work and then you come to Friday night practice and Brady is just flying around, slashing guys in the back of their legs while he’s running around at practice,” Manny said. “I’ll see him interacting with [Josh] Hawkins or a different guy and I’ll just watch from a distance and smile. I’ll be like, ‘Look at him just running around and having a blast. He’s living the dream, being at one of our practices.’ ... Just seeing him suited up in gear and all that and knowing the situation, is exactly what the lacrosse community is about.”




PHOTO COURTESY OF BRADY'S BUNCH

Brady Wein has developed a relationship with many MLL players, especially from both the Ohio Machine and Boston Cannons.


All of the support and fundraising paid off, as Brady’s illness entered remission in 2011 and has stayed that way. He wasn’t out of the clear completely, but he could finally taste the normal life of a child obsessed with sports.

“Now, all of a sudden, fun and regular and normal are more often than the medical things,” Rachel Wein said. “We still have a ton of doctor’s appointments and we still have to work that in, but that’s definitely the minority in his life. It used to be the other way around.”

With that life came a chance to play the game of lacrosse for the first time. Brady began by playing catch in the backyard with his father, then participated in Sunday scrimmages with the local town team. But none were official.

That changed on May 27, when Brady, who is the size of a 5-year-old, took the field for real game. He walked onto the field to a standing ovation, one fit for a kid that had beaten cancer before he reached third grade.

Brady stepped up to the faceoff dot, looked left and right for his wings and then toward the opposing faceoff man who towered over him. He stepped in, and thus began his lacrosse career.

“The feeling was indescribable,” Mike Wein said. “Is he really doing this? Yes, he’s really doing this. I already knew he would, I just didn't know when. I knew one day that he’d take a faceoff, because he told me he wanted to. Rachel and I did everything we could to make that happen. They told me that he’d play zero shifts. We’re already in the bonus.”

Brady Wein said he was just excited to be a part of a team. And he certainly enjoys “checking people and scoring goals.” More of that will come now that he can take the field. He’s also happy to tell his story in the hopes that it inspires others to give back, and to keep going.

“Brady’s Bunch means to me, don’t ever give up on lacrosse,” he told a group of youth players. “If you fall down, get up and just keep on playing.”

And Brady certainly has heeded his own advice. After hundreds of surgeries throughout his childhood, he’s looking forward for the foreseeable future.

“For now, he’s already bettered the world and he doesn't even know that truly yet,” Rachel Wein said.