Berkeley-Bound Blues

Brian Strawn could have gone to any university he wanted, including Berkeley.  And then his life changed.

At 21 years of age, Brian Strawn had made the world his oyster. After failing all the way through middle school, and being refused the opportunity to participate in the graduation ceremony, he made the decision on the first day of high school to do things differently. To his surprise, he was quite smart. In fact, he ended up graduating 11th in his class. And after going on to graduate with an AA from community college, he was enjoying his last summer before attending a university.

His dream was to become a history teacher. And with an eidetic memory and a fondness for reading the dictionary, his political knowledge – and humor – went beyond his years. His family still remembers his hilarious George W. Bush speech impersonations (hand gestures and all).

But the day before his 22nd birthday, Brian’s world changed with his first grand mal seizure. As his body tensed and writhed and his consciousness quickly faded, his frantic girlfriend called 911 as his mother raced home from being out of town.

The doctors put him on an anti-convulsant but provided no explanation. In fact, even after two years, 125 seizures, and countless visits to Stanford specialists, no doctor has been able to explain why Brian started having seizures in the first place or why he has progressively declined in other ways.

But this is not how the story will end for Brian nor is it what will define his future. In high school, Brian taught himself to play acoustic and electric guitar and he is also quite an artist – especially when it comes to Pokémon characters. He has listed both of these as services on, a peer-to-peer marketplace where inspiring stories and meaningful purposes stand behind the featured helpers and the services they provide.

Here, one could book Brian to play them an intimate concert via video chat where Brian strums out songs like Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” or Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” Or they could book him to turn their niece or nephew’s favorite Pokémon character into a custom birthday card. Brian hopes to use this medium to earn the money needed to travel the four hours to Stanford for his appointments, but also to keep connections alive in the outside world.

Having an undiagnosed disease is a lonely and uncertain reality for millions of people around the world. By sharing these stories and the unique efforts being made to mitigate their impact, we hope to help people like Brian find answers and a more self-directed way of life.

*Brian’s story is currently being featured on the back of the first limited edition box of Zer-o’s which can be purchased here:*

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