Benefit planned April 29 to assist family of boy, 4, with rare skull condition

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 17 March 2023 at 8:59 am

Brayden Hoffmeister of Medina needs cranial expansion surgery

Photos contributed: (left) Brayden Hoffmeister wears one of favorite super hero shirts, while swinging in his yard, in spite of constant headaches due to swelling in his brain. (Right) Brayden, 4, is shown after his last surgery to correct a condition he was born with, called sagittal craniosynostosis. He is facing another surgery in June. 

MEDINA – The Medina community is coming together to show its support for a young Medina couple whose son is facing the third surgery to correct a rare birth defect.

Four-year-old Brayden Hoffmeister, son of Brody Hoffmeister and his fiancée Jenna Pangrazio, was born with sagittal craniosynostosis, a condition in which the skull joins together too soon, before the baby’s brain is fully formed.

He has had two surgeries and requires another, with many upcoming medical appointments. The cranial expansion is scheduled in June at Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong.

Brayden falls in the 1% category of children with this condition who need a third surgery, his mother said.

“This is so rare the doctor in Rochester has never done one before,” Pangrazio said. “It’s high risk because it’s the frontal lobe of his head, which involves motor functions and his eyes. It’s overwhelming to say the least.”

On Valentine’s Day, the couple traveled to Cincinnati when Brayden needed an MRI and Strong couldn’t schedule one until the middle of March.

“We were scared and didn’t know what to do,” Pangrazio said. “We knew the Cincinnati hospital saved the life of Damar Hamlin, so we knew they were good.”

When they arrived, the hospital wasn’t having open clinic visits that day, but they did perform the X-ray and sent the family home.

Because of the constant swelling in his brain, Brayden suffers from constant mild headaches and has vision issues. He misses gym classes and can’t play like a normal 4-year-old.

“He wants to be a football player,” his father said. “He loves dinosaurs and super heroes.”

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Brody Hoffmeister and his fiancée Jenna Pangrazio look at pictures of their son Brayden, who was born with a rare condition in which his skull joined together too early before his brain was fully formed.

His parents have been together for eight years and were scheduled to get married the day Brayden had his last surgery. They have a daughter Alaina, 6.

Brody has also faced struggles of his own. He was born with cerebral palsy and his parents were told he’d never walk.

“That motivates me every day I get up,” he said. “God has given me a second chance.”

He went through physical therapy until he was 16 and wore braces for years. He said he was fortunate he has a mild case, and although his left side is weaker than his right, he stepped up to run his family’s restaurant when his mother died in 2019. Rudy’s Soda Bar & Cafe was started by his grandmother in 1988, and his mother took it over in 2006. He grew up in the business.

“It’s the people we meet every day and the relationships we make that keep me going,” Brody said. “The support we’ve received is overwhelming. It makes me proud to have grown up here.”

On April 29, friends are organizing a spaghetti dinner and basket raffle for the family at East Shelby Fire Hall to help offset their mounting medical bills and travel costs. They are seeking monetary donations, help with the cost of the dinner and items for the basket raffle. Any donations can be dropped off at Rudy’s or at Gloria Brent’s office at 106 Pearl St. by April 16.

The benefit will feature spaghetti and meatballs, salad and roll. There will also be an open cash bar with beer and wine, music by disc jockey JT Thomas and many great prizes. There are 750 pre-sale tickets available for $20 each. Dinner will be served beginning at 2 p.m. and the raffle will start at 7 p.m. Winners do not need to be present to collect their prize. Anyone wishing more information may contact benefit chairperson Angela Taylor Coon at (585) 283-9114.