20-year-old Bryan Rhoades died of rare disease | RecordCourier.com

20-year-old Bryan Rhoades died of rare disease

Linda Hiller

After battling a rare form of muscular dystrophy, 20-year-old Bryan Rhoades died early Wednesday morning in his Gardnerville Ranchos home.

According to family friend and Hospice of the Sierra Sage volunteer, Stevie Henderson, who has been a frequent visitor to the Rhoades home, Bryan’s health had been up and down for the past several weeks.

“Sunday he wasn’t doing so well,” she said, “but on Monday, he really rallied – he was sitting up and making an effort to talk. By Tuesday he was consciously moving his limbs and Shirley said he even drank some chocolate milk and ate ice cream Tuesday night.”

During the night, Bryan had a 30-minute seizure, however and his breathing steadily failed. His mother, Shirley, and her sister, Cathy Gray, both of whom had taken care of Bryan around the clock since May, were with him at the time of his death around 9 a.m. Wednesday, along with their brother, Leonard, who had traveled from Colorado to visit.

“It was almost like he hung on to see Uncle Lenny,” Shirley said. “They got to watch Monday Night Football together and Bryan’s Broncos won for him.”

Although Shirley said she had prayed for a miracle, she knew in her heart that Bryan was not going to survive his rare inherited disease, Friedreich’s ataxia.

“I was shocked it went so fast, though,” she said. “I thank God for that. I didn’t want this child to suffer.”

Bryan graduated from Douglas High School in 1996, and received a standing ovation at his graduation as he stepped out of his wheelchair to accept his diploma.

Shirley said she is thankful for all the support from the community since Bryan was diagnosed with Friedreich’s ataxia in 1990.

“I want to thank everyone for all their love and support,” she said. “This is the greatest community we could have lived in. Everyone came together, all churches and everyone, and we appreciate it so much.”

A funeral service will be held Tuesday at 12:30 p.m., at the Calvary Assembly of God Church, 974 Tillman Lane in the Ranchos. Pastor Rich Lammay of High Sierra Fellowship will officiate. The public is welcome.