Teacher struck with paralysis in Thailand returns home to Richmond

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- There is good news to report about the 22-year-old Henrico woman left her paralyzed and in a hospital in Thailand a sudden illness in December.

Family members of Caroline Bradner posted video of her physical therapy on Friday saying she was gaining strength in her arms and hands and tolerating sitting.

"Today she will be making the long trip back home for continued treatment," James Bradner posted. "Please continue to keep Caroline, Mom, and the team accompanying them in your thoughts and prayers as they make the 36 hour journey."

WTVR CBS 6 reporter Shelby Brown posted a photo of the family reunited after the long trip.

"So elated to know Caroline and her mom made it home from Thailand," Brown wrote. "Still sending up prayers for her COMPLETE recovery! God bless her family, friends and the many supporters who were all pulling for her and who reached out to help!"

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.

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.

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.

Caroline Bradner

Caroline Bradner

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 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.

Dad, Caroline and Mom.

Dad, Caroline and Mom.

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.

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

CBS 6 News is working for you. Click here to email a tip to the CBS 6 Problem Solvers. Be sure to leave us your name, phone number and detailed description of the problem. You can also leave a message by calling 804-254-3672.

Need help? Contact the CBS 6 Problem Solvers.