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Family of teacher struck with paralysis in Thailand one step closer to getting her home

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- A Henrico family is one step closer to their goal of getting their loved home after a sudden illness left her paralyzed and in a hospital in Thailand.

Twenty-two-year-old Caroline Bradner has been sick since before Christmas when she woke unable to move. Her paralysis has kept her in a hospital in Thailand.

The situation caused her family extreme anxiety when Caroline’s travel insurance originally declined to approve her transportation request to get back home to the United States.

Caroline Bradner

Caroline Bradner

The company is now reversing that decision. That news and the generosity of so many people have brought relief to Jim Bradner, his family, friends, neighbors and even strangers.

Caroline’s story began a few months ago when she made Thailand her home, teaching English to young children through the Xplore Asia program.

With well wishes and prayers of family and friends, and an adventure nearly ten thousand miles away waiting on her, Caroline Bradner boarded a flight to Asia to make her mark on the world.

Caroline couldn’t wait to get started on her new career path.

Friends back home in Henrico County at Hurley’s Tavern where Caroline worked say her personality is perfect for that job.

“Oh, she’s such a sweetheart. She’s one of the happiest, nicest people you could ever work with. She never has a frown on her face -- ever,” Janice Rossano said.

Rossano, a partner in Hurley’s Tavern, worked with Caroline this past summer while Caroline waited tables and worked as a bartender.

Rossano and her restaurant partner Mark Hurley said the news about Caroline’s sudden illness that left her paralyzed from her neck down, hit them all in the heart.

Former co-worker and friend Gabi Backstrom said everyone that she told about Caroline’s illness reacted in the same way. They all recounted that she was a wonderful person.

“As people found out, they all said what can I do to help” Backstrom added.

“The awareness is the biggest thing. People are sharing the Go Fund Me and anything we can do, we will. Just have to all come together” Hurley said.

Hurley said he’s willing to host a benefit of some sort to help the family with mounting medical expenses. Hurley knows the recovery road will be long, difficult and costly.

“We plan to be there, to help in any way we can. And when Caroline is ready to get back to work, we will still have her spot open right here,” Hurley added.

He said already they’ve been brainstorming about putting on some sort of benefit to help Caroline and the family.

A Go Fund Me page will help the family who is facing mounting medical expenses. There will also be a very long recovery road with intensive treatment as soon as Caroline gets approval from doctors in Thailand to fly home.

Dad, Caroline and Mom.

Dad, Caroline and Mom.

The family has capped the Go Fund Me account and says they will use the donations to cover the medical expenses beyond what insurance will pay. Any money left over will go to a foundation whose focus is on Guillain Barre Syndrome—which is what Caroline is suffering from. [At last check Wednesday night, the more than 950 people had donated more than $74,000 over two days.]

Family members are now eager to get Caroline and her mother back home. Mom, Lou has been by her side since the day after Christmas. The family is grateful for all the help that has come in from across the community.

After our CBS 6 Problem Solvers story aired about Caroline, Sen. Tim Kaine’s office reached out to the family and to the travel insurance company that originally denied her transportation request.

Company officials reviewed her case and reconsidered, agreeing to cover the expenses of a medical transport to get Caroline from Thailand back to Richmond.

When she does get home, she will be flown into Dulles Airport and then driven by ambulance to VCU Medical Center.

“It has been overwhelming and humbling," Bradner said. "Words can’t describe how grateful we are.” Bradner said.

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